Friday, 4 June 2010

Selling Players

This is quite dangerous as I'm going to stick my neck out and make some predictions. It's dangerous as in the event that I'm wrong, which happens all too often, I will end up with egg on my face. However....

There has been much talk of player sales this summer. Shelvey was sold for just for just over half what we were rumoured to have been offered for him last season, and he was clearly a genuine prospect. It doesn't mean that he'll make it of course as many prospects don't, but for the record I think he will - maybe not in a title winning Liverpool side, but I'd be amazed if he doesn't make it in the Premier League.

Anyway, what does that leave us that we can realistically sell?

I believe that last summer the club tried to sell Bailey and Shelvey to raise funds for new players and to boost the working capital to fund previous and continuing losses. We clearly had more cover in midfield than anywhere else. By the time the 'sale of the club' fell through late summer we had one centre half at the club, no left winger and Burton as the only striker that we could trust to score.

Of course, I have no way of knowing, but I suspect that the takeover was a red herring in the signing of players. I suspect that we needed to sell before we could buy and Bailey and Shelvey were the two that were deemed to be most saleable (Richard Murray confirmed this on more than one occasion) and it was widely known that we wanted to keep Shelvey.

Selling Shelvey was never going to be too difficult. There was always going to be a number of clubs that would be happy to take a punt on him. As I say I could be wrong but I suspect that the £1.7m transfer fee is going to look like a fantastic bargain, and even if not, it's not a great fee for a Premier League club.

Bailey, however, was always going to be a different story. He optimises everything that is wrong with footballers in this modern age. When I say that I do so because he is the opposite of it. The number of players I have seen over the years, and not just playing for us, that have looked like they are not giving 100% is amazing. Bailey always gives 100%. He is an instinctive player, I believe, that doesn't think much about what he does he just gets stuck in and gives it everything. For that he is popular, as most fans can relate to a player that is not hugely gifted but gives 100% as that is what we all believe we would do ourselves.

In my view Bailey's passing can be poor at times and he can be caught in possession in places that are dangerous. I'm not sure he has excelled in the centre, and he is not a natural winger. I believe that his commitment is what keeps him in the side, and won him the Captain's armband. If I'm honest I don't think he is a natural leader. He leads by example, but he doesn't 'Captain' the side like Kinsella or Simon Webster did.

Bailey's biggest failing is his skewed view of the injustices the referees show him. I have never been a fan of players lying on the floor when they are clearly not injured that badly. I also don't like players that chase the Referee to complain about something. Not only does Bailey do this but it is rarely successful. His ability to get up off the floor to chase half the length of the pitch when Orient scored what turned out to be a winning goal, when you'd have thought he was going to have to be carried off until the ball hit the net, is a good example. I know Bailey has scored a number of significant goals for us, but he has also been involved in some that went in the other end.

On the whole Nicky Bailey has been a success at Charlton, and with the exception of a few badly worded comments about leaving (which I suspect were as much to do with his agent) he has shown us a respectable level of loyalty. However, we need to remember that this is a job for him. A career, for sure, but it is how he gets paid, and the club wouldn't think twice about dropping or selling him if it suited them.

So what with happen with our 'most saleable asset' this summer?

Well Middlesborough are being mentioned again. There was talk of him going there last summer, but it didn't happen. I suspect that it's either lazy journalism or a deliberate press release by one of the parties that are involved in Nicky's future. I doubt that this Southerner really wants to move that far North. I could be wrong, but I guess he'd rather go elsewhere.

The real issue is what the financial implications are, both for the player and the club. Bailey has one year left on his contract, which means he can choose where he goes next summer, and probably earn himself an increase in wages in the process. It is widely known that free transfers (that are in demand) end up getting most of the 'saved' transfer fee added to their deal.

So there are two conditions that need to be satisfied. A transfer fee high enough for us to accept needs to be offered and a good enough wage deal to compete with what will be available next summer for a free agent needs to be made to the player. I can't see these two conditions being satisfied.

The snippets that are leaking all seem to point to the fact that our ability to attract players in the last three or four years has been the money we've been paying. Bailey was signed when we were building for a second attempt to win promotion to the Premier League, so he is probably already on high Championship money. In the two years that he has been with us there has been carnage in football finances. I seriously doubt that Bailey is good enough for the Premier League, and I also, personally, doubt that he would make a big difference to the fortunes of a club expecting to finish top six in the Championship, so where would he go?

A move to Southampton has been mentioned, and if Pardew is still there next season, with his spending history, he might get a deal worth having, but would that really be a step up for him? Would he really be offered more than he could get next summer on a free transfer? I also don't know if Southampton would even offer him as much as he's on now - good Championship wages.

Thus it is my belief that Bailey will stay.

I think that same logic applies to Semedo, although I do believe that he is a very good player, and could easily hold his own in the Championship, and could potentially play in the Premier League. With just one year left, however, I think there's a chance that he will choose to stay and prove himself for another season and then get a free move.

Richardson is the other player that is talked about, but he, also has one year left and he signed for us as a free agent so his money is probably too much for a club to match as well as paying a transfer fee.

I'm not sure we have much else that you would imagine could be sold. Sure we could give a few players away, but then we'd need to replace them and that would involve agents fees and there's no guarantee that you would get anyone better for the same money, let alone less, so what's the point?

The football world has changed. Transfer fees for all but the top players have been eroded due to the Bosman rule and the fact that almost all football clubs are needing to cut costs and raise money, not the other way around.

I also have serious doubts that we will be able to shift Mou2kill or McLeod, who's wages are crippling the budget.

What does that mean for our squad, and the club?

I think it means that we will not be able to raise much (any if I'm honest) money this summer and will struggle to reduce the budget of the playing staff and will end up with an unbalanced squad again. More worryingly is that it will probably mean that another injection of capital will be required to bankroll the club through to next summer. I have no idea where that is going to come from.

Either way it looks like we will be 'stuck' with the players that should give us a good chance of being involved in the promotion hunt again, so as long as we can keep the club solvent we should have a good season.

This is, of course, assuming that I'm right. In the event that I'm wrong about the likes of Bailey leaving then everything else I've said will also be rubbish.

Up the Addicks!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Replica Kit

At 39 I'm way too old to go over to the park with friends to play football. In all honestly I didn't do all that much of it when I was young enough, but that's hardly the point.

These days (save for this last season) I only tend to wear my replica shirts at games, when watching on the tele and on holiday. I know there has been some debate about why one would want to wear their club shirt abroad, but I've always liked doing it, and probably always will.

So, when one of the three main reasons for owning a replica shirt involves having it for your summer holiday I just cannot see why the club keep bringing them out at the end of the summer. Maybe there will be a slightly earlier release date this year, but as I understand it the design will be a secret until July. I accept that most schools break up in late July but it often doesn't hit the shop until later than the 'preview' date.

Also, for the record my son broke up on 26th June last year and this year it's 2nd July so chances are he will be on holiday long before I can buy eith of us a shirt.

Last year I liked the home shirt, and under different circumstances I would have bought one. However it was a little obvious, to me if no one else, that it would only last for one season. It hit the club shop on early September, which meant that it would not be the 'current' shirt for any summer that one could own it. The other consideration was that if it was for one season only it's use was limited to nine months. I know that the girls in Sex in the City change their wardrobe that often, but for me I really demand more value for money with the clothes I buy.

The fact that we have had significantly more that one shirt every two seasons in the last decade is probably due to circumstances beyond the club's control, but not having a shirt out early this summer when we are apparently in so much trouble is just amazing.

As I didn't bother with either of Charlton shirts this season, and as it's a World Cup summer I've got both the current England shirts. If the Charlton shirt had been available by now I'd have bought it. Now I'm likely to but the home shirt when the season starts, assuming it is available by then, and the away shirt may well be passed on (for the second season running).

I just don't understand it. The sponsors haven't changed this summer and even though the manufacturer has as it was announced months ago I can't believe they haven't got a shirt chosen yet. This will be made even more obvious if our strip next season look remarkably like one of Macron's stock shirts.

Out of interest both Chelsea and Liverpool had their new kit in the shops early May and already I have seen loads of them in shopping centres and Parks.

So, come on, let's have a look at the shirt on the website, and let's get it in the shop. The sooner we can sell it the sooner we can get the money in!

For a little fun, one of the members of Charlton Life has made a few mock-ups of shirts. It is well worth a look.

Up the Addicks!

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Palace Survive

Well, what d'you know all the posturing and in the end a 'deal' is agreed. I have made no secret of being happy for Palace to disappear, because I don't like them, but you have to be concerned that a government (tax payer) owned asset has been sold off cheap to a specific group for PR reasons.

No doubt two things will happen in the future:

1> Palace with funds from CPFC2010 will go on a spending spree rather like that of Southampton last summer and this last season.

2> Selhurst Park will be patched up and used until the value of development land increases and then they will sell it and use it to fund a new football stadium.

I have made no secret of my feelings about clubs (and other businesses) that over spend and then go into Administration to protect their assets, before being 'relaunched' and wiping off most of their debt, while those that dealt with them in good faith lose their money.

My biggest gripe is the football related debts having to be honoured so that a small business can be forced into drastic measures and families lose money while footballers keep earning their thousands of pounds a week.

I know the rules are in place and have been for a while, but the ten point penalty Palace suffered has proved to be no punishment at all. The message that is being sent out is that you might as well take huge risks to see if you can better yourself because if it works then great, and if it doesn't then you can always just wipe off the debt by blackmailing those that did business with you in good faith by telling them them get a fraction (in Palace's case 1%) of what you owe them or nothing at all.

I wouldn't like to be where Portsmouth are right now, but having said that they have been in the Premier League for a few seasons and they have been to two FA Cup Finals, and they even won one of them. All this has been achieved with investment that has, it would appear, been on the never never. If you look at Portsmouth's financial and league position and attendance record for the five seasons before Redknapp went there to manage them I suspect that you would see something that would not be more impressive than any of the clubs in the current second division. Thus you could argue that Portsmouth's tenure in the Premier League and those two FA Cup finals have been funded by the debts that will not be paid back.

Ask any fan of a second division team that are looking like going nowhere if they would like to borrow a couple of hundred million pounds, have a decade in the Premier League and win the FA Cup then be in debt for a couple of seasons and they'd probably rip your hand off. Why should Portsmouth be allowed to get away with it.

I read that Portsmouth have now offered 20p in the £ but want to pay it over five years. That means that the c. £130m that they owe will be paid back at a rate of £5.2m a season for five years. Ultimately they can, therefore, use their parachute payments to cover the small percentage of what they've overspent. In fact with parachute payments of c. £48m they will even come out of the Premier League with more income (net of loan repayments) than they had before they went up in he first place.

If that's a punishment then let's all have some. We (Charlton) were looked upon as a well run club. That moniker seems to have been misplaced with our recent run, but compared to Portsmouth, and Hull for that matter, we look in great shape. There are also about another half dozen that would be in real trouble if they were relegated from the Premier League now - even with the new parachute payment plan that we didn't benefit from.

I really thought that as Palace had a dispute with a party that were not owed money by them (Bank of Scotland) they would actually have to pay the right (and a fair) price for Selhurst Park. It would seem that it only takes a few hundred school children outside their offices to make a huge financial institution back down and add to the gravy train that is English football.

For the fans of Palace I'm, reluctantly, pleased. It could be us, and for the record I would be a complete hypocrite and demand that our creditors agreed to a CVA with us. So, I guess I can rejoice on their behalf that something that is as important to them as Charlton is to me has been saved, but at some point the rules have got be changed to stop clubs from doing this. If a club had to go out of business to be used as an example them I was happy for it to be Palace. Having said that I would have been happy for it to be Southampton last summer, and for the sheer size of their unmanageable debt I'm happy for it to be Portsmouth.

Just as long as it's not us eh?

Up the Addicks!