Rather like going to see a stand up comic, the hour I spent listening to the Directors (and a less than exciting chap from the legal firm - I think) was very enjoyable but I cannot really remember exactly what was said. Sorry.
There were, in no particular order, a number of things that I picked up on.
Despite the fact that Derek Chappell was the 'MC' it is clear that Richard Murray is still the main man. This is clearly only my opinion, but he did handle some of the more awkward questions, and he showed more balls in standing up to (standing his ground and defending himself) the criticisms.
Derek Chappell invited the legal chap to go through the mandatory items and resolutions then he opened the floor to questions. I declined to ask one as I am a coward - as you can deduce from the fact that I write under a 'secret identity' and am very good at criticising others from behind your PC screen.
The questions started along the lines of "In the accounts on page x I see this and then on page y I see that..." I won't lie and say that I didn't understand what they were talking about, I just wasn't all that interested. I spent two weeks in December doing nothing other than my company's accounts so I had no interest in how they value the clubs asserts and it's goodwill.
However, it was interesting to to hear the accountant describe the situation regarding the goodwill. Basically he suggested that with the current circumstances, including and not exclusively, income, expected player sales and expected directors injections he had no reason to expect that the club will not still be trading one year from when he signed off the accounts. This being November 2009. If I was not such a coward I would have asked what he had estimated that value of player sales to be. At one point I even clenched my fist and poked my index finger out in anticipation of raising my hand, then I saved myself. Phew!
There were a few other questions - sorry I don't remember them - before Richard Murray advised that in the past when he had chaired these meetings he had thought a good way to start was a summary of where we were. Incidentally he did this at the bloggers meeting in June. On both occasions this summary negated the need for lots of questions as they provided the answers.
Richard's speech has almost completely escaped my mind. I am not hiding anything, and there was nothing controversial in it, but he talked about how we were compared to both Fulham and Middlesbrough in the Premier League. He went on to describe and give numbers for money invested and spent. I cannot remember the numbers exactly so forgive me, but he stated that we had spent c. £45m to Fulham's c. £160 (it might have been £180m - sorry) and Middlesbrough's c. £100m plus. He also pointed out that Fulham don't have a ground as good as ours. He also pointed out that our ground was bought and paid for, unlike the club that we beat last night. I don't want to argue with Richard Murray (ever) but bought and paid for would mean no debt on it, and from what I read in the accounts we do have some debt - but I'll let that one go.
He also went on to expand and say that we were punching above our weight in the Premier League, and those figures he has given do explain that. Sadly the conclusion to this (as if we didn't know already) is that the attendance at matches is no longer a reflection of the financial strength of a club. Another thing Richard pointed out was that we charged the lowest admission prices in the Premier League, and we are among the lowest in the Championship. Can't really argue with that.
Carrying on in no particular order, and I should stress that Richard Murray was not the only director to open up to those in the room - just the one that seemed to say more of what I remember - Richard at one point asked who in the room thought appointing Pardew when we did was a mistake. After the benefit of hindsight had been disallowed it was agreed that no one did.
Dowie (which I have heard before) was admitted as a mistake and this had more people saying they thought so at the time. It would appear that Les Reed (despite what was said at the time and since) was only ever given the job until someone else came along, unless he proved himself adequate in the meantime. Adequate is perhaps not the wright word, and wasn't what Richard said. I think he said good enough, but I'm not sure. It was explained (for the first time for me) that as soon as Pardew left West Ham he was offered the job (well approached I guess).
One think that Richard did mention (and honestly the others did take part) was that despite the fact that Pardew was not given the keys to the safe exactly, the only way you can hope to be successful is to appoint a manager (who you think is up to it) and give him all the support you can. I agree with that 100%, and it is just bad luck (or judgement in recruitment if you want to be point the finger) that the last two managers have been as trustworthy on spending as Mrs Kings Hill is at Bluewater after a bottle of wine with her lunch.
Without trying to remember the direct quotes Richard did show some backbone in the face of continued criticism. I guess his feeling was 'ok I've admitted I've made mistakes, but I was trying to do the best I could.' Included in that was the question as to why we didn't appoint Billy Davis when Curbishley went. The response was that we did offer him the job, and good terms, but he declined as he thought Curbishley had over achieved for a long time, and he didn't want to follow him as he thought we could fail to replicate what had gone before. Clever man, maybe.
As for the rest, I will summarise:
We hope to bring in at least two more players this week, one will be a centre half and one will (hopefully) be a striker. If we do sign a striker Andy Gray may be allowed to leave. It is clear that he has little respect from the board and Richard Murray in particular. It was hinted at (my view) that he is only playing as we have nothing else. He is also on a lot of money, by all accounts.
On the subject of these two players it is hoped that they will be permanent, but if the players want long term contracts on serious money (they are the type of players we are after) we might have to go down the loan route initially. We don't want to be relegated with players we cannot afford. The discussion of loans came up and a question was asked about a month's loan. It was explained that all loans are for a(n initial) month and then extended. This is not the same as a season's loan signed in the summer. I wanted to ask if there was any indication if Murty or Soares would stay longer, but I chickened out. Buk Burrrk!
There have been no permanent offers for Chris Dickson. None. It was suggested by Bob Whitehead (only mentioned to prove it wasn't the Richard Murray show) that we hadn't even had a loan offer for his full wages - and he is not on a fortune. I take that to mean that someone was willing to take him if we paid some of his wages. Gillingham perhaps - again, just my guess. On the subject of Chris Dickson it was suggested that both Pardew and Parkinson thought he was a little inexperienced, and didn't seem to be able to do as he was told during games. It was not unmentioned that Kinsella was screaming at him from the touchline last night to get him to follow instructions. He may, however, get a start soon.
Jonjo Shelvey has been offered what was described as a very lucrative contract. Richard even jokingly apologised to us shareholders for paying so much. There is no doubt that the board are fully aware of how good he is going to be. He can sign the contract when is 17 on 27th February. It is thought (believed) that he will sign the contract, but there are no guarantees.
The only other subject that is relevant and, indeed, important is that of our managers. In no particular order; Pardew was a rather arrogant man and as such Parkinson didn't have much say in what went on before the former was sacked. It is thought that Pardew had a different idea of how to play, rather than how to battle, than Parkinson. The players are, apparently, much more behind Parkinson. It would seem that their attitude has improved since the change of manager. Parkinson had little say in players bought under Pardew's reign, and it is accepted that the players he has signed have been nearer what we need - not to mention much much better value for money.
The justification for appointing Parkinson was discussed, and I can confirm (how arrogant - I was told) that Parkinson, nor his staff, received new contracts or more money. The 'management staff' have contracts that run for another 18 months. Parkinson, it was thought, will not be offered another manager's job if he doesn't deliver with us. Thus he knows how important it is for him.
Had we been able to afford someone better we would have done so. The sum of £200k a year was mentioned, but we were not going to pay £800k a year for three and a half years, which might be what Billy Davis is now on.
As part of the ongoing cost cutting all departments have been asked to identify where they can make savings. That is clearly going to mean more staff losing their jobs. It is sad, and I do feel for the individuals concerned, especially as they are not directly (or even at all, probably) responsible for where we are, but if money has to be saved there are few alternatives.
Derek Chappell was asked about administration and he said that it is not their intention to take us into administration, quite the opposite. Richard Murray did pop up (not literally) and suggest that if a few of the other teams at the bottom of the league could go into administration it would be nice.
Overall I was impressed with what I saw. I have always had faith in the boards intentions, and from what I saw today they are on top of things. The massive job of cost cutting is going to hurt, but at this point I don't think we have much alternative.
Sorry if I've missed something, but like that stand up comic, he always has a fantastic joke that you can never remember.
Up the Addicks!