Thursday, May 31, 2007

Addicks go head to head with Spanners

Charlton are in competition with Millwall for Maidstone born free agent Danny Spiller. The midfielder has decided not to renew his contract at Gillingham and has been on the free transfer list for nearly two weeks. He held talks with Willie Donachie and the deal was expected to be completed in the last five days.

However, Spiller has baffingly refused to commit to the New Den, having reportedly been offered a trial by the Addicks.

The 22-year old player's career was blighted by an Achilles tendon injury which must help to put him in the frame at Sparrows Lane, allowing our medical staff to get to work. He made 12 appearances for the Gills last year, coming off the bench 15 times.

It's a long time since we've competed with Millwall for a player and I don't find this prospect very exciting.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Favourites to be champions

Charlton are favourites to be champions of the Championship next season according to Bluesq who are offering odds of 6-1 on the Addicks. They are ahead of the Baggies at 7/1, the Blades at 15/2, Wolves at 8/1 and Southampton at 10/1.

Personally I don't think is necessarily good news as it could add to excessive expectations that Steve Brown has already warned about. It's not going to be easy, particularly if the squad isn't strengthened some more. The midfield still looks suspect with its mixture of honest endeavour (Holland), injury proneness (Reid) and under achievement (Ambrose).

Certainly we'll have to do better than taking ex Midland Alliance players. Quorn's windfall from Charlton is now reported at a cool half a million which they are going to use to turn their ground into a stadium. Tally ho!

Thomas off to Birmingham?

The BBC is suggesting that Jerome Thomas is off to Birmingham City. Quite how the sulky winger's showboating and inconsistent performances would go down there is anyone's guess. He could join former colleague Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink whose agent has been saying he is interested in the Blews, although whether they are interested in him is another matter. But anything is possible at the 'Millwall of the Midlands'.

Are you serious?

Only four Charlton players added value to the team last season according to the Fink Tank in The Times in the sense that they added rather than lost points compared with a notional average player. In rank order they were Souleymayne Diawara, Darren Bent, Talal El Karkouri and Hermann Hreidarsson. Only one of them is likely to be with the Addicks next season.

And who was the worst player? Luke Young, followed by Marcus Bent. Then comes Ben Thatcher and Alexandre Song, followed by - wait for it - Scott Carson. But then their stats do show that Paul Robinson is the worst keeper in the Premiership.

Good news for fans of Dennis Rommedahl, Bryan Hughes and Radostin Kishishev who are in an intermediate category. And none of our players feature in the 'five of the worst' category which curiously includes more players from Bolton than any other club.

Personally I blame the 'multivariate Poisson log-normal model.' The Poisson distribution has been around for 180 years or so, but one fears that this is a case of 'garbage in, garbage out' with the data.

It could have been different

As I was working solidly through the Bank Holiday weekend, I had actually forgotten about the Championship play off final until the Birmingham Post rang me up and asked me for a quote.

Well done Derby County, but if only we had secured the services of Billy Davies, it could have been a different story.

Incidentally, all this talk about the £60m match is a little exaggerated. For a team like Derby (who will probably come straight down again) it's going to be £35-£40m next season, but then £11m a year for two seasons after that. Still worth having.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Kish off to Leicester

After seven years at Charlton (was it that long?) Radostin Kishishev is off to the Walker Stadium on a free. Some Addicks thought that the 32-year old Bulgarian international could do a job for us in the Championship. No one would doubt that he gives his all, but his proneness to make errors in midfield that create dangerous situations could be a problem even at a lower level.

More generally, Pards is clearly determined to reconstruct the squad and reduce the number of survivors from the Curbishley regime. This seems the right approach to me.

Charlie says goodbye to Ebbsfleet

Former Charlton striker Charlie MacDonald, who once scored against Newcastle at The Valley, reflects on his time at Gravesend and Northfleet (now re-branded as Ebbsfleet) in the Non-League Paper.

Now 26, he writes, 'I'll be moving to a League club this summer. I won't reveal which clubs are in for me, but there is interest at both League One and League Two level.' [Leyton Orient is one club that has been mentioned]

'I was a little disappointed to spend the amount of time that I did in Non-League football. It was frustrating I wasn't getting the interest before but better late than never.'

'I'm not sure the system we played [at Gravesend and Northfleet] was the best for me personally. I'm not at my most effective when running the channels and am better holding the ball up and linking play.'

I remember Charlie talking disconsolately about his future outside Craven Cottage after a game at Fulham as his time at Charlton came to an end. I am sure he can meet the standards of the lower levels of the Football League and I am pleased that at last things seem to be coming together for him.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Great matches against Blackpool

I would hardly have been writing a headline 'Great matches against Yeovil' if Blackpool had not won today's League 1 play off final. Younger readers may not recall that the seaside team were once a force at the top level of English football, finishing 2nd in the first division in 1955/56.

Stanley Matthews was always a great draw at The Valley and hence there was an attendance of 56,664 on 10th October 1953 to see the great man play, compared with 31,258 who saw the 6-0 demolition of Liverpool two weeks earlier (curiously, I have a clearer memory of that match). With two of Blackpool's key players away on international duty, Charlton came out 4-2 winners.

Next year's fixture was on a Thursday afternoon and that and the absence of Matthews brought the attendance down to 16,354. Charlton were probably satisfied with a 3-3 draw.

On February 13th 1956, Charlton lost 2-1 at home, Blackpool scoring the winning goal with a 80th minute penalty after a Leary penalty had been saved.

More recently, we have played both Blackpool and Yeovil at home in the FA Cup. It took some time to sweep the sand off the floor of the Rose of Denmark after Blackpool's visit.

Martin Jol's joke offer

Dutch humourist Martin Jol is proposing to make a £10m offer for Darren Bent to 'test Charlton's resolve.' Given that £2m of such an offer would go to Ipswich, he might as well stick his finger in a dyke to stop a flood.

Newcastle, Liverpool and Arsenal are also rumoured to have shown an interest and it is thought that Charlton would want around £15m for the striker, although a loan deal on the right terms might be considered.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Luke Young rumours

Luke Young could be the latest Charlton defender to move to Portsmouth, according to some reports. However, Everton are also said to be interested with the right back valued at £2m. Earlier reports linked the Charlton captain with a move to Aston Villa. What is evident is that the fringe England player is likely to go somewhere.

The programme

How it used to be

There is a survey on Valley Review here: Survey

I filled it in because I wanted to make it clear that I did not like the size of the programme last season and I think that I was not alone in that. Perhaps a more convenient size will be one of the upsides of relegation.

I understand about 40 per cent of the crowd buy the programme which is good or bad depending on how you look at it. I am surprised how many of the keenly Addickted do not. OK, some of it has a corporate tinge, but there is always some interesting information you won't find anywhere else.

We have certainly come a long way since the programmes of the 1950s or even the days of 'Scoop' Burrowes.

New blog

The Charlton blogosphere continues to expand and today we are recommending a new blog by a Forest Hill Addick which looks back to our Wembley triumph nine years ago yesterday. Who can forget that day?

The blog is at: Hill to Valley

Friday, May 25, 2007

El K To Be Let Go

Normally reliable sources are suggesting that mercurial defender Talal El Karkouri will be let go after the weekend. He is out of contract in June. El K will be remembered for his sensational goals from distance, although there were many speculative attempts that failed. His distribution from defence relied on the 'hoof it high and long' method. The right decision in my view.

Committed battler Radostin Kishishev is also likely to be let go as he made too many serious errors in midfield for him to be retained. Kevin Lisbie is also likely to be left to find pastures new. He was notable for the number of sitters he missed, not least against Watford this season, although he was not without talent as he managed a hat trick against Liverpool and a good winning goal away at Ipswich (and also against Chelsea).

The news about Lisbie is likely to be released quietly over the Bank Holiday to avoid scenes of mass distress among the Addickted.

Herminator signs for Pompey

Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp has signed defender Hermann Hreidarsson on a free transfer from Charlton. Hreidarsson had a clause in his Charlton contract allowing him to leave for free if they were relegated and he has signed a two-year deal with Pompey.

'I've always had a lot of respect for Harry," Hreidarsson told BBC Sport. 'I nearly joined him four years ago at Pompey before I signed for Charlton. It was a tough call not to go then and I'm delighted to have a second chance.' The Herminator admitted that he would not have a guaranteed first team place.

Paul May comments: I'm not that devastated because I reckon we have had the best out of him. He was too inclined in the recent past to pick arguments with other players or the officials if things didn't go his way. And although he was positioning himself in the box for set pieces, his headers usually missed the target.
Ben Thatcher can do the job and, who knows, one day Cory Gibbs may be fit.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Darren Bent to be loaned to Arsenal

Darren Bent could go on a one year loan to Arsenal, enabling him to rejoin the Addicks when they return to the Premiership reports the East Anglian Daily Times.

Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham, are leading the race to sign the £15m rated striker, but a loan deal could be more attractive to the Addicks, particularly if more money comes into the club in the meantime.

The EADT understands the move would suit life-long Arsenal fan Bent, and the Addicks, as it would mean them keeping hold of their captain if they bounce straight back up, or it could lead to a permanent move if Charlton fail to return to the Premiership straight away.

But a loan move would leave the Tractors without their 20% of any fee over £2.6m promised as part of the deal that took Bent to the Valley from Portman Road two years ago.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Darren Bent goes on holiday

Darren Bent is going on holiday tomorrow and in the meantime he is being very circumspect in his statements to the media:

Some of the Addickted are interpreting his proper caution as a sign that he may still be with us next season, but I think we will need the money and that Big Bent will be the one to stay.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The blogosphere expands

Newish blog on Charlton I have seen for the first time, looks very interesting. The writer must be the nearest geographically to The Valley apart from the good Inspector who can practically see the ground by executing gymnastics in his bathroom. Anyway, good luck to the Blackheath blogger:

Gills try to hang on to Jarvis

Gillingham are trying to persuade winger Matt Jarvis that his future is in League 1 football:

Monday, May 21, 2007

£30m boost for Championship rivals

One of the clubs that will be in contention for promotion with Charlton next year will be Wolves and the Black Country club have received a £30m cash boost. Sir Jack Hayward has sold the club to former Liverpool director Steve Morgan for £10 on condition that he provides £30m in investment to return them to the Premiership status they see as rightfully theirs.

Is Varney the new Lisbie?

From a Crewe forum on new signing Luke Varney: 'Lightening [sic] Pace, direct, good with either foot, good in the air and above all a 100%er (won't stop running all game if told to do so). However, a total confidence player and known to miss the easiest of chances. Only really played to his potential this season, previous ones have been stop start and fairly inconsistent.

He has had a great season for us, but every time he gets through on goal you still never sure what is going to happen. The challenge for Charlton is take that natural talent and turn him into a deadly striker, who given a chance will score 9/10 times.

If he gets off to a bad start you may be left with a player that will disappoint, however if he can improve his finishing you have got yourself a player where the sky is the limit.

The Carling Cup game against Man Utd, showed he has got in him. He had the likes of Heinze and Brown back peddling like they were facing Ronaldo for the whole 90 minutes. That night he was like a premiership star. If you can get that out of him more often enjoy some great performances. It won't be through lack of effort or commitment, but I think most Crewe fans still wonder if he can do it at the very highest level.

In summary, you have got a player with real potential, but you haven't signed the next Dean Ashton. Ashton had real class, made the game look easy, always looked like scoring if given half a chance. In fact it was too easy for him at Crewe.

Two new strikers signed

Charlton today captured two new strikers as Alan Pardew with the signing of Luke Varney and Chris Iwelumo. The Addicks have paid Crewe Alexandra an initial £2m for Varney, while Iwelumo arrives on a free transfer following the end of his contract with Colchester United.

Pards commented: 'Luke is an exciting young player, and perfectly fits the mould of a Charlton player. He's diligent, intelligent, quick and a player that is going to get even better, and we've beaten off stiff competition from both Championship and Premiership clubs.' He also promised more signings during the summer.

Varney comes originally from the tough testing ground of the Midland Alliance and a 20 per cent share of the fee will go to Leamington's title rivals Quorn. The Brakes have denied reports of interest in former Coventry City striker Ben Mackie.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Signings in prospect

On my return from Canada this morning, I found that three possible signings were being widely discussed. Given our links with Colchester, it seems credible that we will sign Coatbridge born Scotsman Chris Iwelumo from the U's. Formerly with Stoke, he scored 18 goals for the Championship side last season.

We are also being linked with ace Crewe striker Luke Varney (no relation).

Chris Perry, out of favour at West Brom, has indicated that he would like to return to Charlton, but this would be a step backwards rather than forwards.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

General Electric could bid for Addicks

US conglomerate General Electric has emerged as a possible bidder for the Greenwich and Bexley franchise of Charlton Athletic. The company is setting up a unit in its London office as it fears it is being left behind in the football takeover market.

The company's sports advisers have said that they would prefer a big deal, but realise that there are not that many around. Hence, they are looking at relegated Premiership clubs and the top half of the championship. A London franchise would be particularly suitable. However, no club has been specified.

Hermes Sports Partners, as their London unit is called, is also planning to offer options such as commercial rights deals, stadium refinancing and other refinancing packages.

I am now off to Montréal for a few days to give a paper on relations between G-14 and Uefa and discuss other football topics at a conference. I'll be back at the beginning of next week when posts will resume (Paul May is currently on holiday in the Canaries).

Marcus Bent in danger after mobile phone theft

Marcus Bent's squeeze was in Liverpool at the weekend (hence his hasty exit down the tunnel) and she had her mobile phone nicked by a Scouser. With it was Marcus's number (and that of Teddy Sheringham) and she is now afraid that he will be targeted by crank phone calls. Like 'why don't you score more goals?'

Full story here: Bent

Spurs in for Darren Bent

Spurs are set to make a £10m offer for Darren Bent. Twenty per cent of any fee would go to Ipswich.

Luke Young is attracting the interest of Aston Villa and Everton.

Reports that Kevin Lisbie is to be let go have not been confirmed. The streets of SE7 are calm at the moment, but contingency plans are in place should there be incidents of self harm by supporters if the rumours turn out to be well founded.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mr Hasselbaink has left the building

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has left The Valley. Apparently he thinks he has another two years football left in him, but has been let go for 'financial reasons'.

Judging by the way Marcus Bent is reported to have raced off the field yesterday and tore off his shirt, he may not be long behind him. (Or perhaps he was in a hurry to see his girl friend) Reports have linked him to a return to Birmingham City.

With Darren Bent also likely to leave, signing some new strikers will be a high priority.

Matt Jarvis may be mystery signing

Gillingham winger Matt Jarvis may be Charlton's mystery signing. His contract at Priestfield has expired. The 20-year old is seen as a good prospect and has scored 16 goals in his 116 outings for the Gills. A signing from Kent may be welcomed by Rickshaw patrons and no doubt his wages are affordable.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Battling Addicks share the points at 'Pool

Having led twice at Anfield, Charlton had to settle for a share of the points, a last minute penalty denying them the victory. However, it was an inspiring performance by the Addicks which bodes well for the Championship.

It was an early goal for Charlton with Holland getting the ball just over the line on two minutes with Ambrose also threatening writes Erith Addick Paul May. After good work by Darren Bent and Lloyd Sam, Zheng Zhi put in a good ball. There was confusion in the Liverpool box and the home side's novice keeper was beaten.

Thatcher did well in defence. The Addickted launched into Valley Floyd Road. Liverpool had a chance to equalise after Bougherra lost his footing but Arbeloa put it wide. Liverpool won their first corner on 11 minutes. 'Pool kept up the pressure and Song had to clear from six yards.

Young had to put the ball behind for another home corner. It was headed away by Thatcher. The ball was played back in, leading Randolph to deal with it in open play for the first time.

Darren Bent forged forward, creating a great chance, but Ambrose failed to take advantage with a poor shot. The Addicks broke away again and Lloyd Sam put in a cross that went past the advancing Charlton players. Arbeloa had a chance, but put the ball into Row Z.

Fowler surged forward, but he put it over the top. Thatcher made a mistake and let Kuyt in, but the ball went out for a goal kick amid home claims for a penalty despite the lack of contact. At the other end Bent went down out on a challenge from Carragher, but vintage referee Gallagher gave nothing.

Fowler went down on the edge of the box in response to minimal contact and the home side was given a free kick on the edge of the area as a mutual retirement gift from Gallagher. Despite home chants of 'here we go', Gerrad's curler went over the bar.

Darren Bent forged forward again, but it ended in a goal kick. Charlton kept up the pressure, Bent went through, the keeper advanced, Bent slotted it across the box, Song got the shot away and Finnan put it behind off the line for Charlton's first corner on the half hour mark. Liverpool took the ball up the other end and won their third corner of the game. Luke Young headed it away.

Song brought Gerrard down on the edge of the penalty area. Lloyd Sam made the clearance, Gerrard had another effort, but Hreidarsson headed it away. Bougherra and Kuyt were involved in a great tussle, leading to a Charlton goal kick.

Gerrard forged forward and laid it off to Kuyt from whom Randolph had to make a great save by diving to his right to turn the ball round the post. Fowler's header was wide from the corner.

Charlton played well in the last five minutes with the home crowd subdued with the game failing to go according to the script. Fowler had a chance in the minute added on, but he put it into the side netting from the edge of the box.

Half time: 'Pool 0, Addicks 1

Charlton came forward again, Carragher missed the ball but Ambrose was unable to take advantage. Liverpool's defence was spliced open by Darren Bent and Zheng Zhi, but the Chinese international put it wide, missing a great chance to make it 2-0 for the Addicks.

'Pool continued to be penned back in their own half by Charlton. Sam put in a good cross, the keeper made a mess of it, but Zheng Zhi was unable to take advantage. Darren Ambrose was pulled off for Bryan Hughes.

Gerrard won Liverpool a corner off Thatcher. Zheng Zhi won Charlton's second corner of the game, but the low effort by Hughes was cleared for a Charlton throw in. Kewell was brought on in place of Zenden.

Sam put in a great cross, after he had combined with Hughes, but the header from the unmarked Zheng Zhi was wide. Nevertheless, a new chorus of Valley Floyd Road broke out. Gerrard went down on the edge of the box, but referee Gallagher was not fooled.
Abeloya came off and was replaced by Alonso. The Addicks succumbed to the substitute's first touch from 14 yards (possibly after a deflection off Hreidarsson)to make it 1-1 in the 17th minute of the half.

Risse advanced down the left, Hreidarsson played the ball out to the edge of the box and Kewell rattled the crossbar with a fierce shot. Song put in a shot with his left foot from long range, but it hit the inside of the post. Fowler advanced on goal, but Luke Young whipped the ball away from him.

Ben Thatcher put in a shot which was saved, it came back out to Bent and the striker instinctively slammed it in with a side foot volley to make it 2-1, anticipating the performances he will make for another club in the Premiership next season. Kewell put in a strike, but Randolph was equal to it and palmed it over the bar with a great save.

Lloyd Sam was taken off in favour of Hasselbaink. Liverpool won their eighth corner of the game. Bougherra flicked the ball away. Fowler received the ball six yards out and put it well wide. Hughes turned the ball into the path of Song, but he couldn't connect from six yards out. Bent drilled in a low ball, perhaps intended as a cross, but it went just past the post.

'Pool brought on Crouch in place of Fowler. Alonso shot from long range, but Randolph got two hands behind it and put it round the post in a fabulous shot. Gallagher gave a penalty for handball against Bougherra. Randolph nearly made the save off Kewell, but pushed it on to the post and it went in.

Thatcher turned it in looking for Darren Bent, but the keeper managed to save. Holland blocked an Alosno drive. Crouch posed a threat, but Thatcher cleared. Marcus Bent came on in place of Zheng Zhi.

Encouraging signs for next season were the great debut for Randolph and an excellent performance by Sam. Although the equaliser was disappointing, it was a pleasing end to the season. Bring on Scunthorpe!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Who is mystery signing?

Charlton are to announce a mystery signing before the end of the game against Liverpool. Speculation is mounting about who this might be. The speed with which this is happening does suggest that this could be someone who is already familiar with Sparrows Lane which suggests the possibility of Scott Carson. This would be great news, but is probably too much to hope for.

Other speculation has centred on some of the possible signings from Southend such as Eastwood. Frankly, I haven't got a clue who it might be, but it does add some interest to tomorrow.

Perhaps it will be another non-league signing? Rochdale have already signed Leamington's Tom Bates and other league clubs are rumoured to be in for other players. Josh Blake anyone?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

What do Charlton fans do 104 times a day?

Think about their club, according to a new survey. Only Sheffield United supporters think about their club more often (110 times). In contrast Everton fans think about their club only 43 times a day and Watford fans 51 times.

Either Charlton fans have a lot of time on their hands or their club causes them a lot of anxiety.

Deano Blames Curbs for Relegation

Former Addicks and now Baggies keeper Dean Kiely places much of the blame for Charlton's relegation on Alan Curbishley:

ZZ's dilemma

Roy Wang of China Daily reports:

'That's no doubt I hope to play in a high-level league abroad, but my future will be decided not only by myself but by the Shandong Luneng Soccer Club, everything will come out after the Asian A3 Champions Cup.' Zheng Zhi, Shandong Luneng midfielder on loan to Charlton Athletic in the English Premier league, told Wednesday.

'We were unwilling to see Charlton's demotion, the game was ruthless, there was no way.' Han Gongzheng, administrative vice manager of Shandong Luneng Soccer Club, said.

'What we can confirm is Zheng will rejoin Luneng for the A3 Champions Cup after his contract with Charlton expires on May 20.' Han added, 'We wrote many details in the contract on what we will do if Charlton is relegated, that's for protecting our player's interests.'

'I learned more from the premier league, my improvement was obvious." Zheng told, "I played with different teams, I knew how to read the play, I will play my best in the last game against Liverpool.'

Zheng also denied a former report saying that if Charlton is degraded, ZZ will definitely leave despite his Charlton coach's retention. [sic]

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Brakes beat Dowie's Sky Blues

Leamington beat Iain Dowie's Coventry City 1-0 last night in a surprise victory in the Lord Mayor's Cup. Last year Brakes lost 5-0, but despite the Sky Blues starting with six or seven of their first team, it was once again a case of Avon calling for the Midland Alliance double winners when former Sky Blues trialist Avon Jephcott scored the winning goal.

Former Addicks supremo Iain Dowie was not there as he was to appear in court today to answer the action brought by Simon Jordan. The opening shots in the proceedings can be found here: Court I was also not among the crowd of over 850 at the New Windmill Ground as a I was at the sponsors' evening at The Valley where spirits were very high despite relegation the previous evening.

Apologies for the non-appearance of a report on the Spurs game but Paul May was indisposed after the match.

Charlton deny takeover talk

Charlton Athletic have today denied reports that a Middle East consortium is poised for a takeover at The Valley following the club's relegation from the Premiership on Monday night. Chief executive Peter Varney said: 'I didn't see many sheikhs at the game last night. As far as I'm concerned it is total nonsense. I think I would know if there had been an approach for the club.' Varney also released a statement, which read: 'The takeover rumour is totally unfounded. There has been no contact from any Middle East consortium and the stories emanating on this matter have no foundation whatsoever.'

Figures of £45 - £50 million had been mentioned and there had been speculation that the Dubai consortium that failed to acquire Liverpool might be interested in Charlton. Peter Varney's denial is emphatic enough, but the fact that sheikhs have not been seen at The Valley or that no approach has been received does not mean that it might not yet come in.

Such a proposal would undoubtedly divide Charlton fans. Some would see it as undermining Charlton as a family, community oriented club. Others would welcome the injection of funds that would enable the club to get back to the Premiership and establish itself there.

At the very least it is interesting that there are rumours of interest in the club. Our view has been for some time that football at the very top level is changing rapidly towards predominant foreign ownership. At some point Charlton may face a choice about whether it wants to be part of that trend.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Addicks in move on points discussion

According to Radio 5, Charlton are one of four clubs (the others presumably being Fulham, Sheffield United and Wigan) who have written to the Premiership about the failure to deduct points from West Ham. The clubs have also, according to what I heard, not ruled out the possibility of legal action.

The waters have been muddied by Leeds going into administration and apparently then being bought back by the current owner, although there may be other potential purchasers. Leeds have hence been awarded a ten point deduction (which clearly served as no deterrent).

I don't have the time to deal with this issue in depth, but let me offer some comments:
1. I think one has to read observations by sports lawyers quite cautiously as they have an interest in drumming up business.
2. It is very important to remember that in law a rule is not something that has to be applied rigidly regardless of the circumstances, in most circumstances there is some discretion in application (unless it is specified otherwise).
3. These are, of course, matters for the courts to decide, but there a lot of matters the courts like to stay away from and this may be one of them.
4. Even if the courts do take the case on, a decision may take some time to reach and the repercussions will be complex to deal with in terms of next season's competitions.
5. Does one really want sporting matters decided in the courts? If Charlton (or any other team) stay up because of a court decision, it could be a victory with a bitter taste.

What really worries me about this is that Charlton fans are focusing their disappointment on this issue which allows them not to face up to how poor the team has been this season and the mistakes that have been made by the board - which Charlton fans are understandably reluctant to criticise.

It would be good to focus on Monday's match on Spurs which is the real route to staying up. Paul May will be there and hopefully providing coverage while I head off to a cold and wet Finland.

A fuller analysis of the point deductions row can be found at our sister site: Football Economy

'We've got a labrador and it's cardboard'

The cardboard labrador was hoisted by the North Bank faithful as Leamington became the first team to win the double in the Midland Alliance at the Bescot Stadium, Walsall last night in front of a crowd of 935. They beat Tipton Town 2-1 to take the Polymac Services League Cup, but only after extra time.

Brakes failed to dominate in the first half and Tipton went ahead just before half time. Leamington were more dominant in the second half and succeeded in hitting the woodwork twice with Tipton's keeper making some great saves. But, then, as the minutes ticked away and pressure from Brakes mounted, it was a case of Avon calling with substitute Avun Jephcott scoring the equaliser from inside the area. In extra time Andy Gregory made it 2-1 with a fierce shot from outide the box.

The joy on the face of veteran Morton Titterton, who had been serenaded throughout with chants of 'Titter-ton' was a delight to see.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A special Champions League souvenir

Are we down and out?

Two contrasting views from our blogging team:

Erith's Paul May writes: It ain't over until it's over. If we can beat Spurs on Monday, then I think we are in with a real chance. The main objective for Liverpool now has to be to win the Champions League. That means they are likely to put out a reserve side at Anfield, giving us a chance to take something from the game. We've had last minute escapes at Charlton before.

I also think that there is a real tide of anger among fans about the decision not to deduct points from West Ham and to allow them to play Tevez at Wigan. This story isn't over yet.

Above all, we have to keep believing. We need to go into the Spurs game with the belief that we can win and transmit this to the team.

Leamington's Wyn Grant writes: What I think is being overlooked is how poorly the team has been playing recently. We will need to raise our game substantially to take anything off Spurs who are still in the hunt for a Uefa cup place.

The performaces against Reading, Sheffield United and Blackburn were simply not good enough. The problem is not one of a lack of commitment, but a lack of sufficient skill across the team as a whole. The reason for that is we don't have enough money to buy a better team (it's no good hoping that someone good enough for the Premiership is going to come through the Academy).

Liverpool are not going to roll over at Anfield. We wouldn't do it if we were a mid-table side playing a relegation threatened team. They will not weaken their side enough to allow us to win. And remember we won't have Carson in goal. There could be a nail biting finish, but it won't favour Charlton.

When it comes to weakened teams, what side will Liverpool put out against Fulham this weekend? And if United have already won the League, as seems probable, will they field a weak team against the Irons in their final league game, before the FA Cup Final?

Fans are indignant about West Ham and the Premiership has been shaken a little by the reaction. But the decision not to deduct points is not going to be reversed. There is a lot of talk about AFC Wimbledon, but they used their clout to get the penalty reduced, much to the indignation of Ryman League officials.

One piece of good news is that parachute payments in the Championship next year go up from £6.5m to £11m which means that we would have a big advantage over other Championship teams.

What is encouraging is the number of season ticket renewals. I think that Charlton will be in the mix for promotion next year if they go down. But that leaves a lot of long-term issues about the club unresolved. Paul and I will be debating these in the coming weeks.

Tipton bring in the Wolves

Tipton Town have been appealing on the radio and the Molineux tannoy for Wolves fans to come and support them at tonight's Polymac Services Midland Alliance League Cup final at the Bescot Stadium, Walsall. It's a big test for Leamington who have the chance to become the first team ever to achieve the double in the Midland Alliance. Last year they went down to Barwell in the final.

This was perhaps another example of Brakes sometimes failing to rise to the big occasion. They crashed out of the FA Cup 9-1 against Phil Parkinson's Colchester, lost 4-1 in the quarter finals of the FA Vase to Curzon Ashton and went down 5-0 to a strong Coventry City side in last year's Mayoral Cup.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Addicks may sue Irons

Five clubs including Charlton are reportedly ready to take legal action against the Premier League following their decision to fine West Ham £5.5m for fielding ineligible players. According to The Daily Mail, five of the Hammers' relegation rivals - Fulham, Sheffield United, Charlton, Wigan and Middlesbrough - are 'angry' that the Hammers avoided a points deduction for playing Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano and 'are set to mount a legal challenge'.

Following Dave Whelan's public complaints about the verdict delivered by the league's independent commission on Friday, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore travelled to Wigan yesterday in an attempt to pacify the Latics' chairman.

However, the Mail quotes a 'senior official at one of the clubs' warning: 'It is within the Premier League rules to challenge the decision and we will be looking at it. They said it was a serious breach of rule U18 and, according to the rules, that should carry a points deduction.'

I think this could be as big a mistake as the attempt to challenge the Sankofa suspension, with the main beneficiaries being lawyers who will collect the substantial fees involved.

I know from my work with lawyers that there are some decisions that courts are very reluctant to take on and want to get rid of as soon as possible (a subject we were discussing in another context only last week). The courts are unlikely to want to pursue this very far and are likely to say that any rule is subject to an element of discretion in its application.

Addickted take hope

It would seem that some of the Addickted have taken hope from Liverpool's victory over Chelsea last night. They think that Liverpool might put out a weakened team for the last match of the season. I think that they have too much pride and integrity to do that. If we were mid-table and facing, say, Fulham in the last home match of the season, would we roll over?

There is also the little matter of beating Spurs. It would be just like Charlton to win after their disappointing performances in their last two matches. However, they will have to play a lot better than they did against Sheffield United or Blackburn. I think that a draw is likely, which would not help us very much.

There are constant complaints about the commitment of particular players, but the fact is that the squad as a whole lacks sufficient quality. Matt Holland, who came third in the player of the year contest, is widely appreciated as a battling, committed player, but in my view he is not the kind of quality midfielder you need in the Premiership. The Championship is a different matter.

Playing the 'blame game' on the list is a favourite occupation, with most attention focusing on managers: Curbs, for allegedly losing the plot; Dowie, for not being up to it; and Reed, for being promoted to the level of his incompetence.

It's understandable that in football discussions the emphasis is always on agency rather than structure, although in my view the latter is often underrated. The fact is that by treading water, Charlton have been falling behind.

It sometimes concerns me that Charlton fans lack real ambition for the club and that this translates into almost an enjoyment of suffering constant disappointments, offset by the occasional high like Wembley.

It's clear that quite a lot of people are happy for Charlton to be a community oriented family club (not a bad thing in itself) that may well become a yo yo between the top two leagues. Meanwhile, as many as six Championship clubs are being courted by investors, some of them with serious money to spend.

I know that Charlton is not for sale and most fans would not want it to be sold. The existing board has rightly accumulated a lot of credit from fans for the way that they have built up the club since the return to The Valley.

In any case, there is no sign of anyone being interested in the Greenwich and Bexley franchise. The London football market is over crowded and dominated by the fashionable sides, Chelsea and Arsenal. I can understand why someone with money would be more interested in a club like Ipswich or Southampton with a clearly defined local monopoly.

I was born into supporting Charlton and I will stay Charlton until I die. But I am not that optimistic about the club ever really achieving anything.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tractor takeover talks a warning for Charlton

In recent years we have acquired a number of key players from faltering Ipswich Town. But now, following Southampton, the Tractors have faced up to the reality of the situation they face in seeking get back to the Premiership and are engaged in takeover talks.

The Evening Star [sic] reports, 'Negotiations are at such a delicate stage that the Blues are refusing to talk publicly about the people who could own the club by the end of June. It is understood chairman David Sheepshanks and chief executive Derek Bowden have agreed in principle to sell the club, although talks are still at a relatively early stage.'

Whether Charlton should remain under its existing ownership is a highly controversial subject among supporters with the majority favouring the status quo. But the rush of takeover bids could mean that either Charlton will be left behind or be left with a C list bidder.

This is a subject we will be pursuing in the coming weeks with Paul May taking a different view from mine.

Carson would stay but Villa want him

Player of the Year Scott Carson has said he would like to stay at Charlton should the Addicks win their Premiership survival battle. However, Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill is ready to make a move for the keeper as he seeks to build up the Midlands side. Sorensen's future as a keeper is seen as uncertain.