Friday, December 31, 2010

Extreme Takeover

Charlton started 2010 in 2nd place in League One with 48 points from 24 games.

We will end the year in 3rd place with 33 points from 20 games, so 2010 could hardly be considered a vintage year, but we will begin 2011 with new owners and thus cautious optimism.

The name of Michael Slater was a new one, but rumours about Tony Jimenez's involvement turned out to be true. No sign of Dennis Wise though, thank goodness.

There is little in the direct business background of either Slater and Jimenez to suggest sufficient financial resources to really drive the club forward, but they may be the front men for those with deeper pockets.

However it's not clear to me why persons (or entities) would wish to bankroll the club without having any direct emotional involvement in it.

Certainly Jimenez has connections with a cabal of wealthy types, but many of them are either already involved with other clubs (eg. Ashley) or have understandably shown no inclination to become involved in the game.

There will initially be a degree of continuity which ought to be cautiously welcomed, with Richard Murray and Steve Kavanagh remaining on the new Board.

Whether or not this remains the case for the medium to long-term remains to be seen (I would doubt it, especially in Murray's case). It may just be a neat short-term way to placate any unhappy supporters.

The direction of the club has been so firmly downwards during the past five years, that perhaps a total break with the past would be a better way to go from the off.

Instead we additionally have a blast from the past in the shape of Peter Varney's official return in an executive capacity.

No-one doubts he's a genuine fan, but the importance of his role during the Curbishley years is overstated, whilst his role in the subsequent Dowie/Reed/Pardew debacle is surely understated.

The potential of the club's geographical location was rightly mentioned, although I'm not sure I understand the relevance of the Olympics.

It's far too early to judge the true incentives and resources of the new owners, but early impressions suggest it could certainly have been worse, and so we must wish them luck and welcome them.

If we can make steady progress forward without losing the club's soul, then most of us would be very satisfied.

That progress may well be stifled in my view by the lack of imagination shown by Phil Parkinson and his coaching team, and it will be interesting to see how much confidence the new owners will have in them.

Parky's view post-Brighton that, "...I can't fault the lads because it's difficult against 10 men as everybody knows," sums up my frustration with him.

There may be an element of truth in what he says if the team with 11 men are drawing or losing at the time of a dismissal (because the team with 10 men simply substitute a striker, leaving them unchanged in midfield/defence), but we were 1-0 up at the time!

Two vital points lost for sure against a key competitor.

The Weston Homes Community Stadium sums up everything wrong with a depressingly large number of new venues in this country, built solely for functionality and cost.

It was also the place last season where Charlton fans realised their team might not be as good as we had been hoping, the Addicks comprehensively beaten 3-0 in the first defeat of the season.

By comparison, the U's did not lose until 9th October this season, and could leapfrog their visitors with another win on New Year's Day.

The club were understandably annoyed to lose Paul Lambert to Norwich (especially in light of what he has achieved since), but experienced boss John Ward has steered them back in the right direction on limited resources.

Parky had of course taken them up to the Championship for the first time, although he will be assured a warm welcome having rather misguidedly abandoned them for the charms of Hull.


At 6:11 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Maybe it was inevitable, but in all honesty I don’t think we are any the wiser after today’s announcement. Michael Slater comes across very well on CAFC TV, but only time will tell whether he knows what he’s got himself into.

There is much speculation, as you highlight, about whether Slater and Jimenez are fronting deeper pockets, but the announcement doesn’t read this way; if we are to believe what has actually been said then it seems to be clear that Slater and Jimenez are the owners.

The real conundrum is where they’ve got their money from and how much of it they have. Anybody with a progressive plan [and why buy the Club if not?] must be prepared to cover a cash shortfall of circa £10m through to the end of next season. That’s a lot of dosh. Are they up for it or is the pressure to win promotion likely to be even greater now?

On balance, today’s news is probably good news because I think we can assume that these Guys are going to have a swing. There’d simply be no point otherwise. However, unless there is a pile of cash behind this deal [and as I’ve said we have no reason to believe that], the risks of a very bad outcome on a 2-3 year view may well have gone up.

I wonder what Murray and Varney would say to that? Why are they so upbeat? Anyway, fingers crossed. Let’s see what happens in the January window.

PS I’ve just had a funny thought. CAFC is now a bit like an Internet stock. It’s loss making, but there is potential. The challenge is to fund the loss for long enough for revenues to come through, i.e. promotion in the case of a football club. The dilemma is that if you try to control those losses you may lose the chance for your business to win. Conversely, the braver you are and hence the bigger your loss, the greater your chance of success. It’s a seductive and dangerous game. Unfortunately, it usually ends in tears. Perhaps it’s not such a funny thought after all.

At 6:21 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I chuckled when Slater said that the club was a "..well-managed loss-making business."

It reminded me of one of old school reports where the religious studies teacher wrote, "Although no progress has been made, he has behaved well."

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Dave said...

Happy New Year NYA! I agree with your sentiments here, especially those concerning continuity involvement of Murray, Kavanagh and Varney. I can't see what Murray will offer post May, other than a nagging voice. If there is any reasonable money behind this, I'm not sure they would want Murray mid-term and if there's not, I'm unsure as to why he would hang around and potential sully his reputation if things go belly-up.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Yes, a predictable sense of anti climax from this announcement. Being open minded and welcoming at this stage is obviously the right way to go, as you say NYA. However, i am wondering if i need to be concerned that Jimenez is an "international property developer."

At 4:33 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Jimenez was reportedly a property developer in Spain and Dubai. You can only hope he got out in time.

I certainly wouldn't worry about him developing The Valley if that's what you mean.


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