Sunday, 1 March 2015

Katrien Miere's visit to East Kent Addicks

I didn't take notes and I won't pretend that I have an especially exceptional memory so I might make mistakes. In the event that anyone else who was there wants to correct me, please feel free to do so in the notes - I wont be offended.

In the event that I share something that offends someone then I apologise but there is no point it making things up or leaving things out.

I should point out that the Chairman of the EKA asked me if I was going to make notes. He wasn't asking in any expectation of me saying no. I thought that making notes would have been rude, and I also couldn't be bothered. As much as I don't mind sharing things, I do have a life and I tend to want to enjoy some of it so making notes wasn't something that I ever considered doing.

On the basis that the VIP meeting was video'd and put online it is clear that there is no intention to keep these things a secret. I, personally, haven't had time to watch that yet as I have been busy.

Anyway, in no particular order:

Katrien arrived late due to problems with the trains. She turned up in casual clothes and a blue puffer coat, which was mentioned later.

I asked her a couple of questions. The first came after she was telling us that she felt that her relationship with Luzon was special and was confident that he would work out. she said that it was similar to the feeling she had with Riga. I asked her if the 'elusive' feeling that he has with Luzon was absent with Chris Powell and Bob Peeters. I'd be lying if I said that she answered the question (a common theme of the evening, if I'm honest) but she did give a little background to both. Bob it was suggested was a nice man but it was thought that there were problems towards the end. Nothing we didn't already know there, but I guess she had to say something. Powell, however she gave what felt like a rehearsed stock answer. They went a long way towards a new contract  with him but it was difficult because we were losing. She kind of stopped there.

The other question I asked was about how the transfers were calculated between network clubs. No answer was really given. She said that sometimes SL do us a favour but she does the best  deal for Charlton that she can do. I felt none the wiser. However she does have good interaction skills, he didn't break eye contact with me when she answered the questions, and i'm sure it wasn't because she was impressed with my beard. Her mannerisms reek of confidence, and she comes across as a very personable character. She did say how she met RD. She said that they did some business while she was being employed to advise him on some media contracts, and he offered her a job. I can see why he might have done that.

She was asked why it seems to take a long time for the lottery draw winnings to be paid out. She had no idea but said she would look into it.

The £150 season tickets came up and she confirmed that that wouldn't happen again - even thought it looks like it will!

She said that she had an exclusive for us. The Valley Express would not be going next season, She said that it would probably be going up by £1.50 as it has to break even. I did think of Airman Brown and his suggestion that one needs to take into account the benefit of selling tickets, but I couldn't be bothered to bring it up as she has already demonstrated that she wasn't going to, genuinely,  answer many questions, and I didn't think I'd get anything that made sense. I know that sounds negative, but I am, naturally, a cynical person and it was how I felt.

She took a couple of calls during the session, one that she described as being from 'The  Owner'. I also thought that she spent, perhaps, a little more time playing with her phone while fans were asking questions than I would have done, but it was after 8pm in the evening and I'm sure she has a social life

She was asked about Yann, and she said that she had already said that this was the last time she would answer the question, but she would do it again - she said that they sat him down very quickly after they took over and they offered him a two year deal on what the club could afford. He came back and said that he wanted to leave and that was that. She did ask what they could have done and someone shouted, 'Give him what he wanted.' She smiled/smirked and turned away - she did that a lot during the evening.

She was asked about the fine that had been dished out following the sale of Stephens, and she said that knew nothing about it.

She explained about Reza going out on loan Apparently he had a good World Cup and he was in demand and he wanted to benefit from the high wages that he could earn for a year or two. She said that the loan deal(s) that has been arranged had benefited him and  the club. She didn't say anything about if he was good enough for  us, but I get the impression that he was always moved on to us as SL didn't want him and I am not convinced that he is good enough for the Championship so any money we could get in for him was probably a good thing. That is my view, by the way, not what she said.

She said that the manager doesn't choose the players. He tells them what sort of player he wants, eg a left footed defender, then Chapple  and an other 9can't remember who) will go out and find some suitable players that fit the bill then ask the Manager if he wants so and so. This is done because it prevents having a squad that is no good to a replacement manager and it also prevents a situation where a manager feels he has to play a player that he selected himself. I'm not sure I agree with her logic, but she sounded confident that it was the way forward, and as the own the club....

The subject of the appointment of Luzon came up and she said many things that I had heard before (and I'm sure you have too) but she added that there was a need to appoint quickly as the players had come to her and said that they need a manager soon. She also hinted that they were not happy with Matthews  et. al. being in charge. She was asked, as a follow up, if that meant that Matthews would be moved  on and she said that they wouldn't  and that the manager was not allowed to pick his backroom staff. She said that they had put all the backroom staff on long contracts when they first came in. however, she was asked a further question, I don't remember what it was now, and  she said that they are all on revolving contracts, which is not, in my view a long contract. Make of that what you will.

There was a question about the Trust and she was very dismissive  of them and said that they asked for a meeting and she asked them to meet with her development team and they said no. She gave the impression that, in her view, that meant that they didn't want to be involved  with the club. she didn't say as much but she did seems completely horrified that they wouldn't get involved in helping the club. I have nothing further to add to this, and accept that I might have, completely, misread the situation.

Crossbars  came up but she said that she had, already, given us an exclusive but that we would be pleasantly surprised.

She said that they knew that we needed a target man and later on I asked her if, with that statement in mind, we would be looking to bring in further players in on loan and she said no as she is already over her budget. There was something else said on the subject, earlier, about us not waiting for the Premier League teams to decide which loans they were willing to offer out but that we needed to  move more quickly that that.

She also mentioned a Reading striker that was on 'twenty-five thousand grand a week' I questioned that while trying to look horrified (I was sat at the front so she could see my facial expression) but I'm guessing that she was not aware of her slip up in that 25,000 grand is £25m, and she went on to say that we were expected to pay half of that and £12.5k a week was too much. She didn't say who it was, and I didn't bother to guess.

She was asked about RD's plans and said that he thought we were going to be promoted this season. She laughed as she said that she told him it was more difficult that he though. Apparently she was offered the chance to sign two or three expensive  players in January on the basis that it would get us promotion  and she told him that she thought it wouldn't get us up so they decided not to bother. I was tempted to tell her  that the answer to that question was 'Yes Mr Chairman' but the moment had gone by the time I could have cracked that joke.

The training ground came up and she said that RD would be paying for all of it now and that planning will be going in soon and the first spade would be going into the ground in October or November.

She told us that we were going to get more money  from the TV deal. I can't remember the numbers now, but it's not that important, to be honest.

She mentioned several times about her love for Charlton (and she doesn't pronounce it like we do 'Charlton') and that she wanted to do the best for the club.

She was asked  about Bulot and Buyens and said that they are both (Frederik, especially)  happy here but she said that Bulot  was very expensive - then sshe  smiled and laughed.

There was more that I can't remember now but my over riding feeling from the evening was that she is very charming, very confident but out of her depth. That is only my view, however, and I'm not saying that she will not become the best CEO we've ever had, but right now I have several concerns about her experience and her ability to lead the club.

Not that that matters, after all, as RD owns the club and he will do what he wants, irrespective as to how we feel about it.

As I've already said I'm more than happy for anyone to correct me or add to what I have said. I know I've forgotten to mention many things that I've forgotten but it's late and I have an early meeting in the morning and if I'd not written this tonight I'm not sure when I would have had time to do so.


Ken Jennings said...

Very good of you to take the trouble to share your recollections.

I was just wondering how many other CEOs have come by themselves on the train to an EKA meeting - and how many have had their style of clothing commented on?

Is it me or is there is an underlying condescending smugness here? Oh dear, let's all laugh at Katrien because her command of English isn't perfect. She said a thousand grand, titter titter. Oh she's out of her depth. What a gentleman you were not to correct her.

I was wondering if there was any praise for her successfully negotiating player contracts to bring Johnson, Eagles and Diarra into the club. And the earlier quality loans from Arsenal and Spurs. Something easily forgotten of course, as you were not taking notes,
Frankly, If I was the CEO, there is no way I would venture out to these Fans meetings just to get judged, picked over and sniped at. Good for you, Katrien Meire. I hope at least some of them were grateful.

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for this KHA, most EKA meetings are supposedly secret! The Reading striker is probably Pavel Pogrebnyak - he would have fitted our target man needs. I agree she is out of her depth, and if the "errors of judgment" continue then Roland will have to move her on.

Kings Hill Addick said...


Thanks for commenting. In answer to your questions:

The mention of the train journey was that I thought it was relevant, in light of the recent incident after the Watford (I think) game. She was due to travel down with a member of EKA but was delayed and, in the end, was a few minutes late. The mention of her clothes was because I wanted to make the point that by not coming in her work clothes it gave the impression of the meeting being informal, which it was. The mention of the blue coat I had intended to mention again, but I forgot. Towards the end of the meeting she was asked not to wear it to Millwall. Her response caused a good laugh buy all - including her.

Clearly you didn't get, from my notes, that the tone of the evening was very friendly. She wasn't put under any undue pressure even when being asked questions that she didn't have a popular answer to. No one gave her a hard time and I don't think anything was said that would discourage her from attending these type of meetings again. She was laughing and joking with the audience from the moment she got there until she left. The committee had arranged a gift for her - one of the members is a caricaturist and he had drawn, or painted, one of her. She was completely thrilled and said that she would be more than happy to come down again.

Maybe it is you but I can assure you that there is no smugness about what I've written. As I've already said the atmosphere was very friendly, if she'd picked up on my mentioning the wages I think she would have laughed with us. On the subject of her English, I think it is impeccable. Her vocabulary suggests that there is no shortage of ability to speak in our language, but that doesn't take away from the point that if one has to crack a joke twice it has missed the point. It would, also, have made me look like an ar$ehold had I mentioned it again – especially as it is not her first language. I just thought it was humorous enough to mention it. I seriously doubt that she would have been offended by it. Interestingly I have made silly errors like that, and more than once, I would have laughed with whoever pointed it out.

Your suggestion about me being a gentleman for not correcting her, which was clearly tongue in cheek, demonstrates that I completely failed to get across the atmosphere of the meeting. I also find it a little insulting, to be honest, that anyone would suggest that I would set out to embarrass someone in those circumstances. I was hoping to get a laugh out of her.

The recent signings and the loan signings were not mentioned, no! I don't think this is for sinister reasons, there was just not a question about them. However there were several spontaneous rounds of applause for things that she said or confirmed that the club would do, or had already done. She was not, I believe, left feeling unappreciated, in any way.

Ken, you clearly misjudged the tone of what I wrote, or I failed to get it across well. I did say that I thought that she was a little out of her depth, but I don't think that I am the only one to think so, nor do I think that in time she won't learn on the job (that's what most of us do, after all). There have been some 'schoolboy errors' recently (none of which I wish to bring up here as I'm sure they are, sufficiently, in the public domain) that suggest that there is room for improvement, and I think that to pretend this is not the case would be both unfair and unrealistic.

I hope this clarifies the points you raised Ken.

Colin from Feltham said...

Thanks for a very informative and interesting account.
The impression I got from your account was that she is a very charming young lady who obviously enjoyed herself. I respect her for travelling on public transport
and not turning up in a big flash motor. Naturally fans want to know everything, but that's not possible.
As for being 'out of her depth' I don't see that. As you say we all make mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update - just a shame you will be removed from Ross' Christmas card.

Joking aside - it seems very much like any interaction she has with the fans - she is clearly charming, witty and very intelligent but some fans just don't warm to her.

She has acknowledged they made a mistake in letting Yann go before - but that was a year ago and we need to move on. I agree we were not going to get promoted this year so am glad we didn't go crazy and attempt to sign big names and hope it was enough. What we have right now is a team capable of play-offs at the least next season - we should leave it as it is now and get some contracts offered to people like Johnson, Eagles and JBG who only has 18 months left.

Thanks for your notes KHA - much appreciated

Ken Jennings said...

Many thanks for your enjoyable response, KHA. You were right, I did get the wrong impression. Sorry about that. I'll put the horse back in the stable and the lance and shield back on the wall. Methinks the lady can take care of herself.