Thursday 14 July 2016

Rickster backs critique of regime

This is hardly a surprising headline: the real shock would be 'Rick Everitt decides regime is a good thing after all.' However, there are some signs that some fans are getting weary of the protests against the current regime, or at least the disruptive ones. Hence, from his den on the Isle of Thanet, the Rickster has selected a post on Charlton Life by 'Grapevine' which he thinks sets out the case against Roland and Katrien rather well. It's rather long, so I have edited it a little.

Personally, although I think that it is well written and makes some good points, it overdoes the doom and gloom. One cynic commented, 'Isn't this just a long way of saying you lose your best players when you get relegated and the owners are just in it for the long term belief they can make some cash. Plus the team is still a bit rubbish.'

Anyway, the post follows.

Can we please stop this endless comparison of the current regime to those of 30, 40, 50 yrs ago? The money for the last two decades in the game driven by television and particularly Sky has transformed the entire industry landscape. It is akin to the comparative pursuit of warfare over the same period while ignoring the technological advances in armaments.

The days of the local builder, baker, butcher and timber merchants dipping their hands in their pockets each and every season have long passed into history. If you do not recognise the distinction then it is not surprising you do not recognise the fundamental flaw in the argument so many seem so desperate to hang on to. Positioning any regime against what you see as the worst regimes is not an endorsement. It is the very definition of "damning with faint praise". The overriding theme through all of them, no matter their failings, was their intent to produce a first team able to compete successfully at the highest possible level. This regime possesses no such aspiration.

The focus of this regime via its Belgian Corporate vehicle as evidenced by its policies, actions and decisions over 31 months is to trade profitably from player acquisition, development and sales. Nothing more, nothing less. Anecdotal evidence from the € 20mn pulled out of Standard Liege which probably funded our purchase and the recent sale of the young Belgian striker by Marseille to Chelsea earning/ repaying Staprix circa £10mn testify to this approach. Sadly so badly have they misunderstood their UK venture they consistently ignored the market needs and opportunities increasing our debt to nearer £45mn whilst now losing circa £5mn p.a. revenue in getting the club relegated to a level at which the current "Chairman" has long stated the club is not sustainable.

The consequence of these "club failures" is any "profit" which may finally accrue to the club on player turnaround (Gudmundsson will be the first) will for the foreseeable future merely reduce the debt including the ever accruing interest to Staprix created by an appalling performance overseen by the common key shareholder. The club has become no more than a vehicle for the Staprix P&L. The entire ambition and consequent strategy is determined by a financial business model which at best pays mere lip service to the underlying principle of producing team striving for sporting excellence. It is a recipe for stagnation and decline.

I understand and commiserate with the regular churn about the decades of supporting your club but regrettably the fundamentals of the club you supported for all of those years no longer exist. It is your club in name only no matter how fervently you may wish it otherwise. It is almost uniquely (Oyston and Blackpool seem to be on the same journey) a fundamental betrayal of the national game.

The current key shareholder is entirely ambivalent to the success of the first team. That is not an accusation you could levy at Gliksten, Hulyer, the Sunleys, the multiple iterations of Murray, the S&J duo all of whom sought first team success within their financial capacity. Each administration regularly sold players for financial survival but at the same time did their best to support the manager of the day by reinvesting in the first team squad.

It matters not whether you are at Level 1 or Level 8 of the football pyramid that has to be the minimum expectation of the players, coaches, managers and supporters of any professional team organisation. I repeat it is not the case today. So no, in sporting terms the club has not been in a worse state. I could argue with an unprecedented level of debt it has never been in a worse financial position either.

For those wishing to embrace the "new approach" of an English manager and the arrival of the first 3 English senior professionals direct from other English senior clubs the club, now into its 2nd week of the preseason, is still grossly under prepared for the season ahead. Our season starts just 4 Saturdays away. How many senior operating positions across the business remain unfilled? Preparation is key to building the foundations of a successful season.

Even if I concede there is an intent to change, and it is at this stage a huge assumption the manager will be properly supported in structuring an appropriate first team squad, there is little evidence to suggest the necessary competence to successfully deliver such change exists. I do not suggest managing a relegation is easy. It isn't but in preparation for a new season it is important you generate and sustain a new momentum. An experienced, focused CEO will have recognised the need to make things happen to drive such change, to create momentum. I regret there is little indication our corporate ownership even recognises such requirement let alone has the competence to deliver.

At the time of writing we have circa 42 professionals under contract of which 21 have minimal if any League experience. Of the other 18 outfield players Bauer, Diarra, Lennon, and Kashi are not match fit.

Of the remaining players; - Gudmundsson and Bergdich will certainly be enjoying pastures. - Cousins, Texeira and probably Lookman are on the trading block - Solly and Jackson carry repeating injury profiles

So within 4 weeks we face having to build on the core of Johnson, Fox, Ba, Holmes, Novak, Ajose, Watt of whom 3 have only been at the club for a matter of days. The squad despite its change in resourcing today carries a very great many of the pitfalls we have seen over the past 2 close seasons. The core of the squad in defence and in midfield looks as fragile as ever. If such a framework represents to you a serious and competent attempt by the executive of the club to support Mr Slade in his endeavours to achieve success on the field on behalf of all of us then I seriously beg to differ.

The club is still to even appoint an assistant for Slade and a replacement Doctor. I fully hope those who have chosen to invest in season tickets for the coming season enjoy the experience but at present it remains a huge leap of faith there has been any material change in the underlying management of the club. There is a very great deal to be done.

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