Friday, 3 April 2009

Next... Southampton away

I went to this fixture last season. It was probably the most exciting end to a game that I remember. Clearly it wasn't like the Play 0ff Final of 1998, but to have ten men for best part of an hour and still snatch a late win was so exciting.

Had circumstances been different this would have been a six pointer, and one that I had originally penciled in as one to watch. As things are I'm not sure I really care one way or the other.

Southampton have more problems that we do right now, hard as that may be to believe, and I fear that they could turn out to be the tip of the ice burg in terms of Administration. The 'Credit Crunch' started with the removal of most lines of credit to businesses. Football clubs outside of the Premier League have never been a good risk, but with money being so scarce it is no wonder that those that borrowed to invest in their future were going to struggle.

Sadly the 'recession' has now added to the problems because clubs are seeing revenues and 'financial support' dry up. Southampton are probably in a worse position than most; they have a huge stadium that carry's a large debt. They were never going to need St Mary's outside of the Premier League, and they cannot afford it either. As the inevitable reduction in match income (fans, corporate institutions and sponsors tightening their belts) the loan repayments on what is a truly splendid stadium become more and more unaffordable.

The end result for Southampton must surely be that the financial institution that has lent on St Marys rights off the debt, takes ownership of it and leases or rents it to the club, or they will literally disappear. I am not a huge fan of Southampton. All clubs have a category for me, Charlton, those I really like, those I don't mind, those I don't really really like, those I really don't like, those I hate and those I really hate. Southampton are in the 'those I don't really like" category, but that aside I would not wish them to be forced out of existence.

That said it is difficult in the current economic and political climate for anyone not to resent an institution (or an individual for that matter) that borrows and spends millions of pounds they don't have then refuse to pay it back and not suffer a catastrophic consequence. I know Southampton are not refusing to pay the loan back out of choice, but that £27m could save a lot of people from having their homes repossessed. It's not necessarily my own personal desire for them to be punished, but in 2009 there is not much sympathy for those that have spent money they cannot afford to pay back.

Charlton's problems seem, by comparison to be no where near as bad, despite the fact that we are suffering the worst football results for nearly 30 years. The decision of the directors to further fund working capital in exchange for taking assets out of the business should be applauded. Their decision re season (and match by match) ticket prices is clearly in what they believe to be the clubs best interests. I don't personally believe that they have got it right, but I have no doubt that they have done what they think is best.

I am confident that Charlton will still be here in twelve months time. I am not so confident that I will have watched as much football in the next year as in any of the last 25, but should things improve I am sure there will be many like me that will find that a short period of absence does indeed make the heart grow fonder.

I am torn between doing my bit (financially) to help the club and to renew my season ticket and to hold off and do my bit to shore up my family's finances during what is a very bad economic recession. On the basis that I have several weeks to make up my mind I am tempted (as I said last week) to wait to see what the squad, management team and early results look like in September when the transfer window closes.

This is probably no real help to the club, but it wasn't me that bought £2m worth of players for £12m and then committed to paying them £5m a year when they are only worth £1m. There comes a time when I have to take responsibility for my own actions, and leave others to do the same.

Up the Addicks!


Wyn Grant said...

There has often been some aggro at away matches there. One year some idiot challenged me to come across the road and fight and then threw a 50p coin at me. But I have three good friends who are Saints.

Chicago Addick said...

They could have done with that 50p this week Wyn :-)

That away game last season was my personal Charlton favourite KH.