Monday, May 09, 2011

Private Eye

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

It's not like me to go over five weeks without blogging, but as I suggested in my last post, there really wasn't much to add to the depressing chain of events.

Indeed I managed to go for a two-week holiday in early-April without even missing a Charlton goal.

I did use my time away productively however, sipping a Pina Colada whilst patiently poring over some historic League tables.

During the previous ten seasons, the number of points needed to reach the League One play-offs were as follows: 80, 76, 76, 75, 71, 71, 73, 81, 78, 75 (Average: 75.6).

Lo and behold this season, Bournemouth's post-Howe collapse ensured that once again 71 points was just enough, as it had been only twice in the past ten seasons.

In other words, given that seasons are not created equal (in terms of the points required to gain promotion, reach play-offs or avoid relegation), missing out on the play-offs when only 71 points were required is a massive opportunity lost.

Michael Slater may genuinely have been willing to write off this season when he appointed Powell, but that view is not consistent with his comments at the time.

Anyhow with some money reportedly now behind the club however, he sure as hell would have been willing to take a '1 in 4' punt via the play-offs.

After all unlike last season, the argument that we weren't 'ready' for the Championship no longer applied.

Despite adding the likes of Wright-Phillips, Eccleston, Nouble, Bessone, Parrett, Stewart and Sullivan to his squad, Powell's side instead managed just 24 points from 23 games.

Over the course of a full season, that obviously translates into 48 points, which would have seen the Addicks finish 20th, saved from relegation only by Plymouth's points deduction and possibly Walsall's goal difference.

However with the benefit of hindsight, let's take an even more critical look at what was required for the Addicks to have reached the play-offs.

Phil Parkinson (plus Keith Peacock for one game) had handed Powell a foundation of 35 points from the first 23 games.

In other words, an improvement of just two points during the second half of the season would have meant Charlton's squad would be at the training ground today instead of Luton Airport.

Sometimes it's easier to put that type of points target into the context of an example set of results, so 37 points from 23 games would only have required the following: P23 W10 D7 L6.

Looked at even more critically, after the Peterborough game (when we had 47 points from 27 games), Powell's men needed to generate just 25 points from the remaining 19 games to extend the season eg. P19 W7 D4 L8.

An even more undemanding total of course, yet we missed out not by just a couple of points but fully 12!

And we're supposed to believe that everything will right itself next season because Powell will be able to build his own squad? (let's hope for his sake that he's not benchmarked against Messrs Lambert and Adkins, thrust into new roles after the season had started, yet comfortably achieving automatic promotion from this division nonetheless).

However let's give Powell some credit, Charlton weren't the worst team over the course of the second half of the season.

They were merely joint 18th worst with Sheff Weds and Hartlepool, and better than Oldham, Plymouth, Notts County, Bristol Rovers and Swindon. No wonder the lads had a lap of honour.

Changing tack, I'm fortunate to have knowledge now of the full facts behind the club's takeover, thanks to some fishing around by some of my best investigators (ie. me).

Confidentiality prevents me from revealing them of course, although the receipt of £100 cheques made payable to the 'NYA Beer Foundation' may be looked upon favourably.

Rather than provide some clarity however (even 'closure' as my blogging therapist might put it) on Powell's appointment, I find myself even more baffled than I was to begin with.

I would say based on what I know now that there is no reason for blind optimism, but that instead the range of possible outcomes for the club is wider today, in both directions.

With a better manager in charge, the distribution of outcomes would surely skew in favour of more positive ones, but I can't be sure of that (I can only lay out a few stats above and ask readers to impartially draw conclusions).

Putting aside the fact that Richard Murray still retains a minority interest, this is the first time in perhaps 20 years that the club is owned and controlled by those who cannot be relied upon to do the best for Charlton Athletic, if it's not also best for themselves.

The key word in the above paragraphy is 'relied' because we may of course be pleasantly surprised, but until motives are better understood we are all in the dark. It might help if they at least revealed themselves publicly.

This is a small but highly relevant point, and whilst there may have been no realistic alternative, it explains why I'm concerned that some fans are no longer considering negative outcomes for the club as they dream of 'doing a Norwich'.

***STOP PRESS: Jeff Vetere is a 'genius'.....allegedly.


At 2:57 AM, Anonymous Ken Jennings said...

You may not be providing 'Quantity' these days, NYA but the 'Quality' is clearly undiminished.
Very helpful for a non-stats oriented bloke such as myself. Thanks.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger StoneMuse said...

C'mon NYA ... spill the beans, what have you heard about our owners?

At 10:40 AM, Blogger StoneMuse said...

C'mon NYA ... spill the beans, what have you heard about our owners?

At 10:45 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

It wouldn't be right to say anymore because of the way I found out the information, but hopefully my opinion on what it means for the club (above) is useful.

At 1:35 PM, Blogger Rik said...

1. The right outcome for themselves and the right outcome for the club (the business) is probably more closely linked than you're implying. It's not escaped my attention how Jimenez has made his money though.

2. If someone who worked for you was crap for 3 months, then showed 3 weeks improvement before being crap again, you might conclude that the guy was indeed crap. 17 games of Parky's reign yielded just 19 points. The 5 game run was a blip.

3. The opposite is true of Southampton whose players were better than their results before Adkins took over.

At 2:12 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...


1. I'm not sure I agree. With the exception of just a handful of big clubs, it's been proven time and time again that the equity value of football clubs over time is zero (over 50 have gone into administration). Club investors/benefactors (whatever you want to call them) thus have very little financial 'skin in the game' unless they're canny enough to 'buy low' (like they've clearly tried to do here) and 'sell high' (not easy as that's when the glamour/fun begins). Fail however and they can walk away and leave the fans/club to pick up the pieces.

2. I was no fan of Parky but if one takes the 'players weren't good enough' view now with Powell, then his record of 118 points from 68 League One games is pretty outstanding (which again begs the question why was Powell's record so much worse with a squad that was actually improved?);

3. Easy to say, but Parky's Charlton did better than Pardew's Southampton even adjusted for their 10-point deduction - so either Parky is a genius or Adkins is. You can't have it both ways.

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Chris said...

Not sure why you can't share what you learned about the owners NYA. I'm sure its not like you did anything illegal to get the information is it? So why is it you feel you can't share?

At 2:05 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I've shared it with a few fellow fans that I know and trust, but whilst I obviously obtained the information legitimately, I don't think it's appropriate or desirable to put it in the public domain without good reason.

It is obviously reasonable to ask me why I mentioned it all. In short, I felt that it would be hard to continue blogging here without at least having alluded to it.

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Well, above all else, I want you to 'continue blogging here' so if you wish to call an end to the debate about this matter then so be it, and I'll just let it go and continue to enjoy your posts.

However, to try and expand upon my original point; unless the information you obtained was done so via a means which is unavailable to the rest of our fans (through personal contacts, or gained from sources inside your industry for example), then what's to be gained by keeping other Charlton fans and bloggers from it?

If the details are in the public domain, no matter how difficult to find, why not signpost the rest of us?

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally understand you can't say too much but I wondered if you might be able to say how 'certain' you are that have unearthed 'all' the facts regarding our ownership?

Chris Powell has stated this week, at a Q&A session, that budgets are likely to be reduced not expanded and, with such an unproven and seemingly out-of-his depth manager in charge, we could be in real trouble next season.

Anyway, if you can give an indication of how 'solid' your info is (maybe as a score out of out of ten??) I'd be really grateful to you.

Also can you say if it is 'quite possible' that a certain a business figure who tends to operate primarily off-shore and whose name has already come up once or twice with regard to ownership 'might' be involved?

Or is there a previously unknown high net worth individual as an investor?

Can you rule out the possibility that Dennis Wise is one of our hidden minority owners?

Sorry for all the questions (!!), I'm most grateful for what you have already said but if you can give some further feedback that would be great! Things are so uncertain and some hard knowledge might provide some closure!!

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Well the club's own website makes it clear that the club is owned 90% by CAFC Holdings, and 10% by Murray. CAFC Holdings is in turn owned 28% by Jimenez, 23% by Slater and 49% by others, with less than 10% each.

Thus the real question is not about ownership (we know a majority of CAFC Holdings is owned by Jimenez/Slater [unless you believe it's an outright lie, which I don't]).

However if you believe that Jimenez/Slater are not rich enough to finance a football club (much harder than buying a football club), then either they've made a catastrophic mistake, or CAFC Holdings has some 'side deals' either with those above named minority shareholders or other third parties to cover the deficits, and develop the club going forward.

Even if there were high net worth individual(s) backing the club (as minority shareholders presumably) the question is how much are they willing to invest, and over what timeframe? Their identity isn't really relevant, which is why presumably they remain undisclosed.

Given that their willingness to finance CAFC Holdings is a moving target and will depend presumably upon goals being reached, I certainly don't know what we can expect and frankly nor does anyone else, including those at the club I believe.

CAFC Holdings is a BVI entity so virtually by definition, its shareholders operate offshore to some degree.

I don't know who all of the minority owners are (and there must by definition be at least five), but I don't think it's relevant either as I understand only some of them are pulling the strings. I don't believe Wise was ever involved, but I don't know for sure (nor particularly care).

I'm aware of Powell's comments in the week about the budget, and it ties in with my view (which I will expand upon in my next post), that no-one involved is seeking instant gratification, nor willing to try to provide it.

However if I piece together some decisions the Board have made (eg. appointing Powell, appointing Jeff Vetere, seemingly lowering short-term expectations etc.), I can actually build a somewhat credible view as to what they might be planning (will expand on this), and indeed I think other fans should step back and think about it too instead of worrying overly about who might be brought in this summer.

However anyone seeking certainty in any of this is going to be disappointed because by definition it can't be had, hence my initial comment about 'range of outcomes'.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NYA, I am very grateful for your detailed response but I still feel just as much in the dark. Do you actually know who is pulling the strings?

Have you seen documentation that proves this or heard this directly from either Slater or Jimenez or an alleged mystery backer?

I think the identity, and thus wealth, of our minority shareholders is extremely relevant because if they have the combined wealth of Messrs Murray and Chappell then Charlton is going nowhere fast, while if they have the wealth of the likes of Kevin Cash (if he really is as rich as is claimed) or Sir Philip Green (mentioned on one occasion at least) then that at least gives cause for hope - even if, as you say, they may not be pumping large amounts into the club right now.

My fear is that Slater and Jimenez are more in financial control than fans really want to believe because they don't have much money themselves (relatively) and the chances of CAFC moving back up the to the Championship, let alone the Premier League, seem remote.

My personal worry is that the involvement of Vetere and Jimenez (who has allegedly previously worked as an agent in years gone by) will see players coming in on THEIR recommendation with Powell, a rookie with no experience or real clout, simply seeing this process as part of his overall challenge. This might be totally wrong of course.

But if our new owners had money and sense then they would surely have appointed a manager with a demonstrable track record either in League One or above - like Curbs for instance.

They went for Eddie Howe (I can see a certain logic to that) and yet he turned us down for Burnley.

Yes, Burnley have parachute payments and are in a division above but if CAFC has genuine significant potential to move upwards again then I'd have thought we could have secured him.

I don't think appointing a cheap novice manager, an apparent intention to pay nominal fees for players and then actually looking to reduce a budget that Murray could barely sustain is indicative of a Board of Directors with any real ability to bring back the good times.

NYA, I know you cannot say too much but I feel you do need to be a bit more explicit in what you do know as I think most fans were well aware of hidden minority shareholders and that some or all of these 'might' be the power behind the throne.

However, with each passing month, it seems this power is possibly not as potent as we had hoped.

I mean, NYA, can you, candidly, state that there definitely IS a very rich individual or two among our less than 10% shareholders??

No names are required of course although ballpark wealth levels might be useful to know if possible.

I think a lot of fans would love to know this sort of detail and from a trusted source.

Thanks again.

At 9:20 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

I think you're barking up the wrong tree in terms of how much the person(s) behind the takeover might be worth. I know who the individual(s) concerned are, but I'm not comfortable estimating their wealth because I simply don't know (it may be surprisingly high or low).

I've obviously not seen documentary evidence, but it's from a source that I consider very reliable for good reasons.

You are talking about people who are clearly in it to make money, as opposed to Murray who was in it for love. So you have to ask yourself how they might intend to do that with CAFC?

Given the club runs at say a £4-5m deficit already, and next season would be worse all other things being equal (because gates will be lower), then it would take say a £8-10m investment next season to both fund the deficit and materially improve the squad (via fees/wages). Spending £8-10m pa in League One, with two difficult promotions to win before any hope of a return on investment, does not seem a sensible way to 'make money' out of CAFC.

However what if there was a long-term plan which looked at the club's location/stadium/fanbase, looked at the riches available in the Premiership, and said 'let's build slowly and get the right foundations in place, and not overspend for short-term gratification'? We know that Jimenez and now Vetere are nothing if not well-connected and knowlegeable.

I think that your assessment of Powell's position is probably correct I suspect, but seen in the above context makes some sense.

So yes, plenty of cause for hope but likewise, no guarantee about the commitment of those involved who don't yet have much 'skin in the game', and no apparent love for the club that would presumably prevent them walking away some day if things don't go to plan.

At 10:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many thanks again NYA for the reply - a good discussion!

You said:- "what if there was a long-term plan which looked at the club's location/stadium/fanbase, looked at the riches available in the Premiership, and said 'let's build slowly and get the right foundations in place, and not overspend for short-term gratification?"

The problem is that every year we spend in League One our support will diminish. What is the point of building slowly when our nice stadium has only 7,500 fans in it?

Our prime location will matter little if the product on display at our nice stadium is third tier rubbish as it is now.

To me, what you have been told is similar to what Richard Murray and others said when he sold out to this consortium. Surely we, as fans, were bound to be given a positive spin on the takeover?

It also seems strange that you cannot at least estimate how much money our mystery owners have? I mean, are they listed in rich lists like Forbes or the Sunday Times? Surely a Google search would give some general idea??

Their potential wealth does matter a great deal to this debate - if they don't have very much potential capital then we will have to continue as we have - cheap signings, play youth products who may not be that great and now, with Chris Powell, rely on an inexperienced manager with a terrible early track record.

Look at QPR - yes, they took a steady-ish approach to promotion but what underpinned their strategy? Very wealthy, stable owners like Ecclestone and Mittal.

Again, an owner with both capital and sense WOULD spend money now to get us out of this awful division. It wouldn't take a fortune and Southampton have gone and done just that.

Promotion would mean that attendances would rise, hope would return and Charlton would become a bit more marketable again to its potential fanbase.

It's obvious really that this is what needs to happen and the only reason it won't happen is, in my personal opinion, not due to the typical Charlton political spin of 'let's choose evolution not revolution', but because we simply actually cannot afford to spend the money to get out of the third division.

Every club needs to develop its fanbase, build its academy etc etc but sometimes you also need to use what makes a difference in football - money.

NYA, you have been very kind in replying to my comments but it appears you don't know if our 'mystery' backers even have any money let alone if they are going to use it any time soon.

Things still seem as they ever you yourself said...

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose."

Thanks again!!

At 10:36 PM, Blogger New York Addick said...

I agree with your point about the dwindling attendances, but that's the obvious risk if my theory is accurate. Again I would view Powell as a populist appointment which has gone much worse than they would have hoped, potentially placing them in a bind (although from fans' perspective, it may fast forward any planned investment).

I'm not aware that QPRs owners spent very much money - they just got a decent manager finally and gave him more than half a season.

Anyhow I plan to draw much of this into a separate blog post rather than continue in the comment section.

At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

NYA - thanks again.

I'd just like to say that QPR HAVE indeed spent money when they have needed to. They've taken a controlled but pro-active policy.

The likes of Taraabt, Routledge, Tommy Smith, Kyle Walker and Helguson all came in from Premier League clubs and, of course, commanded steep wages from a Championship perspective.

The notorious Alejandro Faurlin, who so nearly risked them a points deduction, cost 3.5 million quid as just one case in point. That sort of outlay for a Championship club...and look where they are now.

Southampton spent a million on Lambert and 250K on Barnard and look where they are now...

So money has been spent on wages and key transfer fees by the likes of QPR.

That's what I'd expect for Charlton IF we had the money to move onwards and upwards.

But, let's be honest, we haven't got it and that's why average journeymen pros like Michael Stewart can't as yet agree a package with us.

It is lunacy to give Chris Powell whatever money we do have. His record was relegation form - truly shocking. But maybe he won't have such a major role in who the club signs anyway. Who knows...

I think we could be becalmed in this division for some time unless we go down!! Maybe I'm being too pessimistic.

But if we have to continue to tighten our belts in the THIRD division then, sorry, but there's no real money behind us or, at least, none intended for CAFC's usage.

At 9:25 PM, Blogger Confidential Rick said...

A total change of topic.. in frankie v terms, so off-topic..the entrapment of the head of the IMF.. surely a clumsy attempt to de-stabisise the euro?

At 2:01 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

NYA, Since when did you moderate and approve/dissaprove comments before they were posted on this blog?

At 2:15 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Chris, as Wyn Grant alluded to on his blog there was a problem with Blogger for a day last week and comments went missing (although I did receive email notification of your comment).

Don't worry, I'm not Charlton's answer to Andrew Marr.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

This might be worth a try,
The following players are free agents for 2011.
D. Kiely
P. Rachubka
J. Spector
JLloyd Samuel
L. Bowyer
M.Bent (forget that one)
Just missing a center half!


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