Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Palace in Administration

There seems to be a host of different views about Palace's financial plight. I thought I'd share my thoughts on the subject, but while I'm at it I'm going to explore how the rules should be changed.

Firstly I should explain that I am not completely sure what the rules are about who gets paid what and what options a creditor has if he doesn't agree with the 10p (or what ever it is) in the pound that they are owed.

What I do know is that in 2008 a company went into Administration and was subsequently declared bankrupt and it owed my wife over £10,000. The owners and staff had been paying themselves hundreds of thousands of pounds in salaries while the business failed to make money, and even (obviously) spent what turned out to be millions of pounds that it didn't have. I am fully aware of the implications of the 'little man' as the founder of the company that owed us £10k plus went home to his £2m house that was safe as he had a limited company.

Thus I do have sympathy for anyone that is trying to earn a living, look after their family and pay the taxes that provide public services and then get stuffed when mismanagement causes businesses to fold. In the case of Crystal Palace (just like any other company, football or otherwise) I would love to see their Chairman lose his house and the shirt off his back. I read an article recently where Mr Jordan was boasting that he has fifteen cars - he listed them as he was so proud of them. I mean, how can you need 15 cars? He will be allowed to keep them all, of course, and his yacht, which he brags he paid £3m for (it might have been £2m I'm not that sure).

The other thing that I feel needs addressing is this condition to repay any football debts. I'm very pleased that we will benefit from the reported £100k they owe us, but if they are forced to repay all football debts, yet get away with 10p in the £ to the Inland Revenue this needs to be addressed. The Inland Revenue is, after all, the public purse. This is the money used to pay for hospitals, schools etc.

When I mentioned that my knowledge of the rules was limited I did so with the intention of floating the idea that HMRC should force a football club to repay 100% of the Tax due or go out of business. This would be rather unfair on the club in question, but it would make others think twice about 'cheating' the public out of their money by putting a limited company into administration.

I remember the fuss when Leeds were in administration. According to Wikipedia, Ken Bates only offered 1p in the pound initially. He eventually paid 8p in the pound. Thus the reported £35m debt was reduced to £2.8m. They owed the Inland Revenue (you and I) £6m. Thus the public purse was shortchanged of £4.92m. Even now the presenters on TalkSport happily tell us that Ken Bates saved Leeds and he's done a great job. He did so by managing to wipe off £32.2m.

The former footballers (who's intelligence I question) don't seem to have a problem with the fact that we have nearly £5m less to spend on hospitals where sick children are dying due to a lack of resources. No, not at all, Ken Bates is a real Hero.

Portsmouth are in a bit of a jam at the moment. There seems to be some confusion about a penalty points deduction in the Premier League. I'm not sure what the actual situation is as there has never been an administration in the Premier League, but I suspect that with debts of £60m (or what ever they are) they would be advised to go into administration before the March deadline, reduce their debts to a few million, knock the Inland Revenue and start in the Championship with little (or no) debt with two seasons of parachute money to get them back up again.

In fact, this should be the new model for all promoted teams. If you go up you should borrow c.£60m to spend on players, go into administration, get relegated (there was a fairly good chance of this happening anyway), sell a couple of players and end up with £50m of players and cash in the bank.

Thus I think it is time for a football club to be forced to close it's doors and cease to exist. This is just needed as a lesson to the rest of the footballing world that it is no longer acceptable to spend someone else's money and then pay something like 10% of it and start again.

For the record Leeds and Palace are not the only clubs that have benefited from this. Southampton have, from the little information available, managed to build a super stadium for nothing - or a massively reduced price at the very least. Sure they have been deducted 10 points in the third division, but from what I've seen they have the biggest transfer budget outside of the Premier League. How must those that have suffered financial hardship as a consequence of their administration feel when they seem them buying million pound players? Leicester City did the same thing. They built the Walkers Stadium then went into Administration and never paid the full price for it. What made their actions even worse was that they didn't even suffer a 10 point deduction as the rule hadn't been introduced by then.

Now it is no secret that I don't like Palace, and for me they are the perfect club to make an example of, despite the fact that I suspect they will end up defaulting on less than those others I've mentioned. At the very least HMRC should demand that their debt is treated with the same priority as football debts. Maybe it's time for a change in the law to enforce that across the board.

I know people are suggesting that we could well be in a similar situation at some point (this summer being mentioned) but even though I don't want Charlton to cease to exist, I believe that these administrations are currently just too beneficial to the football clubs, and are often used as a business practice. The punishment should be so severe that no one relies on it.

On a side issue, having looked at our accounts most of the debt is owed to those that run the club. Sure we have a 'mortgage' on The Valley, but as that is secured it is likely to be paid in any event. Thus administration would cost the Board millions. From sporadic reports it looks like the board members wanted some money for the Club and/or (depending on which reports you believe) they wanted their loan bonds to be repaid. If they don't sell the club and it goes into administration they are likely to get a very small percentage of that money. That could well have been a major motivating factor in the £7m injection in the summer. I'm not suggesting that our directors only care for their own money, but I'm guessing that if Simon Jordan was owed £15m by Palace and they owned the ground that was worth many millions, he would have bank rolled the club from his own finances, rather than the money he has 'borrowed' from local businesses and us taxpayers.

As it is I suspect that Palace will sell a couple of their players (I'd be amazed if anyone would pay much of a fee for Ambrose - I don't think there are many secrets in football and he underperformed for Newcastle, us and on loan an Ipswich) then survive in the Championship and be no worse off next season.

Something has got to change. Imagine if every football club went into administration. We would all have 10 points deducted, and we could write off literally billions of pounds of debt with no real consequences at all for the footballing world. This system actually punishes the sensible, the prudent, and the decent.

So, for the record, I hope that Crystal Palace are forced into liquidation and cease to exist. Sure that's personal, why shouldn't I hate them, their fans hate us. However, the main reason for this is that I am sick and tired of seeing millionaires (Chairmen, Players and their Agents) being unaffected by these actions while the tax payer and small businesses lose millions of pounds that they can't spare.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Charlton 0 - 1 Orient

I have read an reread Dave's post on last night. I agree with all of what he says, but I do feel the need for a moan of my own.

Firstly can someone tell the manager and/or the players that the introduction of the prices for next year's season tickets is not the time to play the worst football (at home) of the season. I haven't read last night's program yet, but I'm guessing there will be something more about the tickets in it, and this after the prices were published the night we 'scraped' past Hartlepool 2-1.

A run of eleven unbeaten is, actually, quite fantastic. I know we are in the third division, and we are a big club and all that, but you can only beat those that are in front of you, and we are averaging two points per game. You have to go back to 1986/87 to find a season where the team in second place of the third division (in all it's names) had an average of more than 2 points per game. Since we switched to three points for a win in 1981/82 there has only been that one season where an average of two points per game was not enough to finish in the top two. The last season of two points for a win we were in the old Third Division and we managed 59, but with 3 points for a win we would have managed 84.

Maybe Norwich and Leeds are going to pick up fewer points in the last 19 and 21 games respectively. Maybe 90 points will be enough to win the division, but either way our side has a better average now than it has finished a season with since I've been watching. Our Football League Championship season we finished with 91 points. I know we fell apart at the end, but after 27 games we had 56 points, we currently have 54. It's not exactly a complete disaster.

Sure, losing at home was a disappointment. I truly believed that after we scored that late equaliser against Swindon we would go the whole season unbeaten at home. Clearly it was not to be, but as Chicago Addick says, there is a lot of football to be played, and many twists and turns to come.

The biggest worry, though, is that I actually believe that Parkinson is getting the best out of what he has. We don't have a natural left sided player to play on the wing. Wagstaff has done a good job out there, but to be fair to him he is young, and he is (like most of the squad) right footed. He looked good for a couple of games, and the side looked balanced too, but the Millwall game was too much for him, and I believe that using him sparingly is the best for both the player and the team. Neither Bailey nor Shelvey are left wingers. They have both done a job there, but they both look like central midfielders playing out wide.

Unless we can do a deal to swap one of our central midfielders for a winger then we have to accept that we are going to be hopelessly one sided. We are going to be easy to predict with Lloyd Sam being the focus of most of our attacks, and our left flank our weakness as the 'winger' in front of Basey (and Youga soon - hopefully) is often wandering into the centre. A note for Grant Basey, he has suffered a lot of criticism recently. Let's try to remember that he is still very young; he has had little or no protection from the player in front of him; he gets forward and creates things, like Mooney's goal last week; he is our reserve left back - in an ideal world he would only play a handful of games in a season. Just how good a reserve left back do we expect to have in the third division?

So if Parkinson is getting the most (give or take) out of the players we have, and there is little chance of signing any new players we probably have to accept that Norwich and Leeds are going to prove difficult to catch. This is a depressing thought as we really do need to get out of this division at the first attempt if we have any realistic ambitions of being safe in the Championship if and when we get there. However, the playoffs are still a route to promotion after all.

My only moan about last night was that I didn't think the foul on Nicky Bailey was all that bad, and from what I've read elsewhere the TV cameras confirmed as much. I don't mind a player doing what he can to gain an advantage, but to have rolled around on the floor like he'd been shot while Orient scored then running half the length of the pitch to complain about it made Bailey look like an unprofessional spoiled child. It also made him look like a cheat. He has been irreplaceable for us this season, but last night he was positively average (like many of his team mates). It is time for this side of his game to go.

On the whole it was a disappointing performance; it was a very disappointing result, but we still have a better than average points per game than has been needed for a top two finish in 29 of the last 30 seasons. If either Norwich or Leeds go on a run of one win in four we could be right back in it. We need to pick ourselves up and go out on Saturday and continue our record breaking season.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Next... Hartlepool at home

Tonight we face a mid table side that took a hammering at home on Saturday. I'm fully expecting that we will come out of the traps on fire and the game will be as good as over after half an hour.

To be fair I tend to say that every week and I'm not sure we've actually done that more than once or at best twice this season, but tonight I'm sure we will.

Normally you don't want to face a team when they have just been hammered at home, but with six defeats in their last nine games this should be a shoe in for three points tonight.

Of more note is the club's recent offer to freeze prices of season tickets if you renew by 31st March, and to buy a five year ticket at this season's prices too. Both Dave and Blackheath Addick have written about this, and I don't disagree with them, but I also have a different angle to discuss.

Imagine, if you will, those scenes at Turf Moor on Sky Sports last summer with queues of fans waiting to hand over their money to secure a seat for their Premier League campaign. Sure, they wanted to see Man Utd and Arsenal. Sure they wanted to see Blackburn, their derby rivals, but they were in anticipation of the new season because they'd seen so much success. From the end of February (including the playoffs) Burnley won ten, drew three and lost just one game. It's no wonder they were queueing down the road to commit for a whole year.

Compare that to us. Despite losing only one in our last eight games, our run from the end of February was two wins, six draws and four defeats. What is even worse is that was about our best run of the season. It's no wonder that we had a struggle to sell season tickets last summer. We look good at the moment, and I am still confident that we will be in with a real chance of winning promotion this season, but let's face it we would need to win the league or a playoff final for the fans to feel much more enthusiastic about Charlton than they do right now.

Thus the plan to 'cash in' on our current wave of enthusiasm is great business. Sure it will raise much needed income now, and the five year tickets will be a real shot in the arm for the cash flow, but the real benefit, as I see it, is that it will not in any way, shape or form, reduce the total number of season tickets we ultimately sell. I happen to think it will mean many more sales, personally. Last summer I was tempted to have a year off from watching Charlton. Right now I am happy to commit to next season irrespective of which division we are going to be in.

So again, I have reason to praise the club and I feel more confident that things will be alright, and I have a feeling that we are going to record a big win tonight - although I'm sure I've heard that before.

Up the Addicks!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Wycombe 1 - 2 Charlton

Well, that turned out ok didn't it?

It was nowhere as easy as I'd expected, and had Beavon not missed his early chance the result could well have been rather different. Having said that he did manage (rather more by luck than judgement) to march through our defence without losing the ball.

As I've said previously I am not very good at match reports, and my analytical skills seem to be best used at looking for faults rather than praise, even when it's due. Yesterday's game was, for me anyway, the perfect spectacle for an away game.

Don't get me wrong I love winning games 5-0 (I have seen a few) but coming from behind and winning is always more enjoyable (in this case giving away a lead before scoring a late winner). If we had been ten points ahead of second place and fifteen above third by now I would be more than happy, but it would take a little away from each match as it would seem to be a bit of an irrelevance. Winning three nil, and looking safe after twenty minutes or so is fine, but it's just so much more exciting to enter the last few minutes of the game needing something - be it a goal or to not let one in.

We survived the early scares, and Wycombe had a few chances that would, 99 times out of 100, have led to a goal in the games we played as recently 2006/07 (Premier League). I am only just coming to understand the difference between a 'real' chance in this division. Beavon is probably a good professional (I actually have no idea) and maybe his early miss was not very characteristic of him, but Rooney, Owen, Henry et. al. would have buried it. Thus until I really learn the limitations of strikers in this division (including ours, to be fair) we are going to feel like we have had more let-offs.

Anyway we went on to settle and dominated the rest of the first half getting a great goal by Shelvey, and looking the most likely to score. Wycombe didn't give up, and with better finishing or a bit of luck they could have scored in the first half. Sometimes you need to be only slightly better a side to win by three goals, other times you need to be a much better side to win by one. Yesterday was one of the latter occasions. No disrespect to Wycombe, and the result didn't flatter them, but I still believe as I did on Friday that if we had to play them again, we'd win again.

The fact that the game was in doubt until the final whistle added something to the atmosphere. I have only been to a handful of away matches this season but I've sensed a greater atmosphere among the Charlton fans at each successive game. There seems to be a closer relationship with the players too. I was rather critical of Nicky Bailey in the summer. He was (at Championship level) caught in possession of the ball a few times, and that coupled with a press release that suggested he wanted to leave made me feel a little resentment towards him.

With his performances this season (and from very early on) my thoughts changed. Granted I expect that he would rather play elsewhere (Premier League for sure) but he has led by example this season. Parkinson's decision to make him Captain looked, initially, like a sweetener to keep him. It might have been some, or all the reason, but he has led by example in the same way that Steven Gerrard and John Terry do. With hindsight, something that I have now and Parkinson didn't have in August, his selection as Captain was inspired. Parkinson's decisions all over the place are looking more and more inspired. My criticism of his appointment in November (and again December) 2008 was for the right reasons, but he has clearly proved to be the right man for us. Next season in the The Championship (should we be promoted) or League One (with players having to be sold) he will have it all to do again, but for now I'm more than happy with him. I think he has done enough to earn our respect and, more importantly, our patience and realistic expectations.

Anyway, back to yesterday. On the way up to the game my Dad and I were discussing our hopes for new signings (as you do) but we both concluded that even though we are screaming out for a dedicated left winger, assuming we can keep Mooney until the end of the season the priority is to keep what we have. Nicky Bailey being the most influential individual this season (and probably last season too). He was picked out by the fans and his name was sung more than all the others added together - clearly we are not the only Charlton fans that like him. His goal seemed to come from a perseverance and a determination to score/win. It was his run to the fans (not very far to be honest) and the expression on his face that reassured me that he is not looking for a move in this transfer window. That doesn't mean he won't leave, but normally these things are driven by players. He clearly has a bond with Charlton fans. It makes the treatment he received from Barnet fans earlier this season all the more understandable.

There is a feeling beginning to resurface that the players are not just footballers playing for our team, they are our players, they are our boys. If nothing else that is something to celebrate.

Up the Addicks!

Friday, 15 January 2010

Next... Wycombe away

After the longest break we've had during a season that I can remember I find myself back at my keyboard looking for inspiration to produce a review of this game.

It has been so long since I watched us play I have forgotten exactly how we were playing. The results look good. We have won five and drawn four of our last nine. That would normally be Championship form, but Norwich and Colchester have been on an even better run, and Leeds seem to be the luckiest team in the history of football with their late goals this season. With the formula now looking like two from four I suspect that we are going to need to win most of our games until the end of the season - starting this Saturday.

Even as an obsessed fan I suspect that I am no more (and probably significantly less) aware of what is needed for us to secure automatic promotion. I'm not talking about the players we will need as that is a lot more subjective, but the number of points, and the specific games we must win (or not lose) must have been discussed by Parkinson and his management team.

It is, obviously, still in our hands. We have had a bit of a wobble, and had a run of draws in games that, in isolation, were not bad results. We need to win our game in hand over Norwich, we need to beat them at home and then match their results to the end of the season. I would have taken that in August. Colchester add to that stress as we pretty much need to match their results (assuming they win their game in hand) and depending on goal difference a draw at home to them may well be enough. Leeds are now nine points above us and even though they could have some issues if Beckford leaves, and/or they could easily turn their 'lucky' wins into defeats, but I'm going to stick my neck out here and predict that we will not catch them. That's ok though as we only need to finish second.

I know it is a little negative talking about only needing to finish second, but frankly there is little glamour in this division - especially after the Premier League years. I have enjoyed this season, taking big crowds to away games, playing with style and winning games against inferior opposition is good fun. However, make no mistake, should we require a second season in this division I will not find it at all exciting, and will not be looking forward to games like I have at times this season. Basically we NEED to finish in second place. The Playoffs would be exciting, but we are still considered to be a Big Club outside of the Premier League and with the current state of finances in English Football there will be a number of decent Championship players available on a free in the summer. The sooner we can guarantee our place in the Championship the sooner we can start making approaches to these players.

Anyway, all that is for another day. Saturday will be (rather like Walsall would have been) my fifth away game of the season. For someone that normally goes to one or two a season this is a significant number. I am not planning to make the trip to Walsall now so I may not make it to too many more away games this season, but it has been real fun. For the record the four games up to now have provided two wins and a draw. Seven points from a possible twelve. That's more than acceptable on the road and I have a sneaking suspicion that we will win tomorrow too.

Despite Wycombe's recent performances against Norwich and Leeds I felt that we were so much better than them back in August that we should have little trouble. Despite their two goals we had the game in the bag, and but for the hangover from the season before where we'd not been able to hold on to a win for love nor money, we looked comfortable enough to make me believe that should we be able to concentrate for a whole 90 minutes, we will run out winners.

We should have Daily back in the side, which will release Semedo into the midfield, where we really need him. I was very pleased to see Mooney signed on loan again. Originally I heard that it was for the rest of the season. I think he is likely to be very significant to our season, but I can only guess that this loan can be extended, hopefully it will be. There may, also, be some resolution to Leon McKenzie injury problems that will result in him having a run in the side before May. I'm convinced that he is the real deal, we just need to get him playing to find out. There have been suggestions about his lack of appetite. The type of player that is happy to be out injured just so long as he has a contract paying him a wage. Even if that is the case, at his age, he needs to play a few games to get himself another deal. Either way let's hope he does get fit enough to contribute.

When we played our first game of the last decade we were third and we went on to dominate the second half of the season and won the dvision at a canter in the end. History does repeat itself you know?

Up the Addicks!

Friday, 8 January 2010

Winter Break

Well, we've been hearing about this for a few years now and suddenly the football clubs have got what they wanted.

It will be interesting to see just what the mouth pieces of Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal will have to say about it when they end up having to play Champions League and Premier League games at the rate of two a week for six weeks.

This break has, however, been a bit of a blessing for us. True it would have been better had we not allowed Norwich to play a game when we didn't, but they had to play their game in hand at some point, and if there is any added pressure with being in the top two then let them have it for a few weeks. With both our full backs out with injuries, and with Christian Dailly suffering from some illness it means that we should have a better squad of fit players to pick from when the games are rearranged. Frankly it doesn't matter where we are in the league until the final game is played, so anything that gives us a better chance of winning a game is ok by me.

It also reduces the number of games that Norwich can play before the end of January. I have no idea if they are actually going to sell any of their stars this month (one of their Directors says they aren't - but he would say wouldn't he) but on the off chance that they are the more games they can hold over the better as far as I'm concerned.

I am a little worried about Colchester suddenly. They look like keeping hold of Lisbie, and from what I read they have money to spend. They have been on a great run since October, and with another player or two they could be a real challenge to us.

There has been little happening since it started snowing, but we are now a week into January and we don't seem to have made much progress on bringing in any players. Akpo Sodje seems to have gone back to Sheffield Wednesday, Mooney (who I think made a big difference when he came into the first team) has gone back to Reading injured. McLeod looks to be in discussions with Peterborough, but as there is some negotiating to be done I can only assume that they want him on loan for a proportion of his wages until the end of the season and then they can send him back if he turns out to be as good for them and he has been for us.

On the subject of injuries, is it only me or do we keep being told that so and so will be out for a few days or a week and then he disappears for weeks on end. Richardson was going to miss a couple of games, and hasn't been fully fit since he failed to finish the game at Gillingham on 24th October. Youga was going to be out for ten days or so, that was on the 24th November.

I don't know if the club guess (and get it wrong) or they mislead the fans or the opposition, but it is a little frustrating when they get it so wrong - especially when they are players that we need and want to see in the side. No disrespect to Basey or Omozusi, but I'd much rather see Richardson and Youga in the starting eleven.

With tickets for Wycombe already bought I hope that we get to play that one, but I guess the weather will decide that - something else that rarely seems to go as we are promised by the 'experts'.

Up the Addicks!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Christmas Thoughts

I love Christmas. I really do love it and I always have done. I'm a kid you see. I know most women think that most (if not all) men are children, but I am a proper example of someone that has managed to keep the mental age of a ten year old despite being 38.

Christmas is just so exciting. Santa Clause comes with sacks full of presents, there is more drink to consume than normal, and we play rather a lot of games in a short space of time.

This year, not unlike last, I have had the added bonus of having a son to get excited with. Mrs KHA has been completely bewildered by our repetitive declarations that "I'm so excited".

There was added excitement with Christmas this year as I am on taking and bringing home from school duty. This means that I am responsible for looking after my 5 year old Son from when the school breaks up. Thus my Christmas break started on the 18th December.

So, Millwall was in my Christmas 'holiday'. I've now managed to calm down from the disappointment of letting in that late equaliser, and can see that the game was a classic, and as much as I wanted to win, I accept that on the basis that they had ten men for so much of the game they probably deserved a point.

I love going to football on Boxing day. Away is ok, but I like to be at home. Again we failed to win, but the last few minutes were as exciting as I can remember at The Valley. In fact, now that I do think about it the last time I remember a game finishing so excitingly was when we beat Blackburn with a late goal in December 2006. I was convinced that El Karkouri was going to hit it like a rocket, and hit the wall, but he bent it 'round the wall and The Valley was ecstatic. It is rare to score late goals that mean something, and a draw with nine men is as exciting as a win - it certainly was on Boxing Day.

Still, that result left Norwich and Colchester breathing down our necks and another game in two days after playing our socks off with nine men, and with two influential players missing. The Brentford game was always going to be difficult, not only because of what we'd been through, and the players we had missing, but they have been very strong at home - having not lost there for almost three months (including Leeds). Thus a 1-1 was acceptable in the circumstances.

The fact is, the circumstances shouldn't have arisen. Sam Sodje was a fool to lunge into that tackle. I believe he was sent off for us on boxing day two years earlier for a two footed challenge. Totally unprofessional, and was in large part responsible for the four points that we could have had if we'd won those two games. Dion Burton also let himself and the team down with his sending off. I do have some sympathy with him as he was technically correct that the Referee had allowed all sorts of fouls to go unpunished on Akpo Sodje. To have remonstrated so much was probably always going to end up with a booking. The hand ball, however, was just plain irresponsible. It is my belief that he did it to make a point that he was being fouled. I can understand why he did it, and might have done the same thing myself. I should point out that I am a spoilt, bad loser, and I would probably have made a big dramatic statement about being man handled by the defender. I am not, however, a professional footballer. Burton should have known that with all the fuss with Thierry Henry's goal against the Irish there was going to be a punishment for it.

On reflection, despite having a very bad game, the referee had little choice with Sodje's red card or Burton's two yellows. Sadly it probably cost us four points (at least two) and that could well mean everything if we fail to finish top two and don't win the playoffs. I don't want to be too dramatic, and there is a lot of football left to play, but it is quite possible that our football club could well be in real trouble in the summer if we fail to win promotion, and I doubt that we will finish more than four points behind the team in second place. Still, if we could afford a central defender that never put a foot wrong we wouldn't be in the division in the first place. I think I would be inclined to release Sodje in the summer though. With such a limited squad you can't carry liabilities, and he has been sent off 14 times in his career now. He has missed five games, through suspension, for us this season, and we have half the season to go. Anyway this is a discussion for another time, and I may well have changed my mind by the summer.

Walsall was a bit of a disaster. Not only did we slip out of the top two for the first time this season but I drove to my Dad's and we were 25 miles from the ground when the game was called off. Strangely we discussed not going. I think in these situations (when a pitch inspection cannot guarantee the game will go ahead when the away fans need to leave) a full refund should be offered those that decide not to travel on the off chance that it goes ahead. I feel sorry for Walsall, but to have two games called off with less than two and a half hours before kick-off does give the impression that they were gambling the fans travel costs in the hope that the game would go ahead and they would get more money or would get money quicker.

I will not be going to the rearranged game, but the whole episode has probably cost us over £50 and best part of a whole day in the car. I left my home at 9:30 and got home at 5:30.

Anyway we have an average of exactly 2 points per game, the same as Norwich, and it's all to play for. Their recent form has been outstanding, but we have been amazing at times ourselves this season. The only ray of hope is that Norwich are rumoured to be in financial trouble and with the transfer window working the way it does they will need to sell this month or they will not be able to raise any more funds until the summer. This could (and, in fact, would) be a great gamble if they really do need the money. I'm not all that familiar with their situation, but I do remember them selling something like 17,000 season tickets in January last year. Thus their match by match income must be rather low. Anyway time will tell, and even if they don't sell we could still finish above them. They do need to come to The Valley, after all.

I also think that Leeds could be catchable. I know they look like they are out of sight, but the sale of a star or two could cause a lack of confidence that could do to them what the sale of Andy Reid did to us two years ago.

So we start the new year (and decade) with an average of two points per game, goal difference behind a team that needs to come to our place, and with suggestions that we will be strengthening our squad while they will be selling to raise money.

Up the Addicks!