Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The recording of the extraordinary shareholders' meeting (available on CAFC Player), provides some remarkably frank insights into the club.

As a shareholder, I was entitled to attend so listened to the recording with considerable interest. Murray promised more disclosure now that the Plc obligations are gone, and he did not let us down.

Without wishing to detract from the excellent 'live' summary provided by Kings Hill Addick, here is my own summary (in no particular order):

- the equity is now officially worthless, but it was effectively so as soon as the large bond issue was completed (because those new creditors were senior to the shareholders in the capital structure);

- Murray acknowledged his disappointment that events had come to a head like this, and felt he had somewhat let his fellow directors down;

- the bank (Lombard largely for £7m, but also HSBC for £1m) effectively owns the club, but the directors run it on their behalf (much like a mortgaged house);

- in League One, even after the adjustments made, the club will still run a £4m operating loss;

- the loss would be closer to £3m if the last three remaining high-earners were sold (Semedo, Racon and Youga);

- the TV income and gate income effectively covers the club's off-field expenses (including £500k in rates, and £200k in electricity for example), implying the wage bill is approx £4m as above;

- in the Championship, TV money would rise to £6m and the club could be viable again and becomes a much more interesting potential investment (although surely the wage bill will rachet up too?);

- The Valley is effectively a liability in League One (because it is costly and can't be filled), but would be an obvious potential asset following promotion;

- the average playing salary is now just £100k (it was not clearly implied whether this included the above 'big 3' but it has clearly fallen substantially);

- the club chose not to sell Semedo in the summer, but sought bids for Racon (none were forthcoming except on a free) and Youga (but he is injured) - in January, he strongly implied both could go;

- the club was offered £750k for Bailey by two Championship sides - 'Boro offered £1.4m, but the delay in completing the deal was simply down to their own cashflow problems (throughout the meeting, Murray continually spoke about the general crisis in football finances);

- Jonjo Shelvey's sale netted £1.5m initially, and will net a further £250k for each ten full appearances (up to some limit) - there is also a 20% sale add-on;

- there was a deal with Liverpool about loan players embedded in the deal, but the manager changed soon afterwards, whilst they want us to take on the full wage obligation (clearly ridiculous);

- the club took a calculated risk last season to get promotion but it failed (one might argue they were miscalculated risks that actually harmed the side, but anyhow);

- loans will not be a key part of the squad building process anymore, but will be used in desperate circumstances (hurrah!);

- Jonathan Fortune is well-respected and may well sign this week - if so, the club is still seeking a forward and a winger/forward;

- Murray thought it was crazy that Grant Basey turned down a deal with Aberdeen - he might be left without a club (it's not a seller's market anymore);

- the club still has a sell-on clause for Madjid Bougherra (this could be worth a million or two in the right circumstances?);

- the seat cleaning project (as well as others like the 5-year season ticket holder invitation into the boardroom) are deliberate attempts to get back to the 'old Charlton way' (and not before time);

- Murray committed to hosting a similar meeting for 'past shareholders' going forward, even though he is certainly not obliged to (nice gesture);

- Murray believes Phil Parkinson is the best manager he's ever worked with, including Curbs (come on, let's get real - what he probably really means is he prefers working with Parkinson);

- however both Murray and White praised his work ethic, and his preference for players with the right character (much like Pardew then!);

- the club turned down a friendly with Spurs because they wanted it on Wednesday August 4th, three days before the season started - also the police bill implied a 15,000 gate was required to break-even, only achievable by giving up whole swathes of the stadium to away fans;

- the attendance at friendlies is generally disappointing unless the opposition is genuinely top-drawer - witness the embarrassingly poor turnout for Curbs' testimonial against Hearts;

- the Oldham game was police-free;

- the 'incest song' is difficult to stop although the club is doing what they can (yawn....stupid song, stupid people);

- the money owed by Cardiff has been repaid - they are no longer owed any money by any other clubs (the imposition of transfer embargoes is the usual route to securing monies owed not a Motherwell-esque winding-up order!);

- the Academy costs £6-700k pa to run, down from £1m at the peak;

- the club remains committed to maintaining full Academy status, because unlike lesser versions (eg. 'Centres of Excellence', or simply nothing), they can still hope to attract the best talent, not least because they have fixtures against the very best;

- the Premiership seems intent on making it financially non-viable for clubs like Charlton to have equal status Academies (amusing to observe how a Chairman's view of the power of the Premiership waxes and wanes depending upon whether one's club is in it!);

- expanding The Valley is not a key priority right now (I can't believe someone actually asked this).

In short, Murray seemed in good humour and guardedly optimistic about the future. As we all surely know by now, we are incredibly fortunate to have someone with his passion, integrity and realism at the helm.


At 3:47 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Well, thank God for him.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger Marco. said...

It just dawned on me that with RM taking full responsibility for the club, what would happen if, ( I know this sounds awful), he was to tragically suddenly die?
Southampton had their main bankroller suddenly die and we know Richard Murray has had a few health scares recently.
I feel really creepy even bringing this up but I was wondering what your thoughts were.

At 11:26 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It's a perfectly reasonable question. As it happens, I think someone tactfully asked this very question but the sound quality wasn't great.

Presumably the club would be passed down to his children (along with the rest of his estate), who would then have to decide what to do with it going forward.

Unlike the family of Liebherr however, at least there is real Charlton blood flowing through all of their veins.


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