Sunday, September 03, 2006

Murray takes a gamble

Because of the nexus of unofficial Charlton sites which are now available on the web, I rarely bother to check the Official site anymore. Personally, I would rather read other fans' opinions on the facts, rather than just the facts themselves. Today was a slow news day though, so I found myself trawling the official pages and clicking things that I wouldn't normally bother to click. If you are anything like me, chances are that you may also have missed this interview with Richard Murray.

The chairman mainly speaks about the signing of Souleymane Diawara (who doesn’t speak English by the way), but what makes the clip interesting is the fact that he admits that the club have massively overspent on new players this summer, and confirms that we have already dipped into next seasons transfer kitty. For anyone who is reading at work or is otherwise unable to click the audio link, here is an excert from the clip:

Reporter - "£3.7m? Thats quite expensive for a defender"

Murray - "Very expensive. I’m giving Iain a hard time on that, because he is spending money we haven't really got. We've already dipped in to next years budget."

Murray also claimed later on in the clip that the reason for the clubs financial gamble is the Premiership’s new TV contract that starts in the 2007/08 season. For those of you who don’t know, back in May the European Commission threatened the Premier League with legal action should in not ensure that other television companies were given a share of the live matches this time around. The upshot of all of this is that Sky will now only broadcast 88 matches per season (as opposed to the 138 that they currently offer) and the rest of the live games on TV will be broadcast by Setanta, an Irish channel who you will also have to subscribe to in order to watch your football from next year.

Basically, the rights to Live football on the three occasions that they have been negotiated have increased massively from £191.5m in 1992, to £670m in 1997, and now to £1.7b in the upcoming deal. Setanta are yet to announce how much it will cost to view their matches on pay-per-view. The new deal also guarantees the 20 Premiership clubs much more money per season that the current one. The format will be the same however, each club receives an identical amount, and then gets a bonus at the end of the season dependant on where they placed in the table. The new contract will massively increase (from £500k currently), the amount of money that the clubs will receive per league placing. Our financial splurging this summer is largely to ensure that Charlton are still a part of English football’s elite when this contract begins next season.

In short, this season is absolutely critical to the future of Charlton Athletic. To go down this term would be a complete disaster financially, and if we do eventually get relegated we have already gambled a portion of next seasons transfer budget. With the dizzying amount of money that is being talked about here you can understand to some extent the boards thinking in spending what we have spent, but gambling our clubs financial future is not something that Charlton often do, and it has left me a little concerned. Making comments about gambles and next years budget already being spent is almost like saying to bigger clubs: “we are going to be skint next summer, so if you fancy Darren Bent on the cheap, just make us an offer next July”. Also bear in mind that the club have now received local residents backing to redevelop the East Stand at the Valley, and I’d imagine that is going to cost us a fair amount of wedge as well.

We are not the only club in this particular boat however, Blackburn, Manchester City and Tottenham were the only three Premiership clubs whose dealings in this transfer window have amounted to a profit, and Spurs only recorded that profit because of the ridiculous £18m they received for the very average Michael Carrick. Much has been made of the fact that any one of 14 Premiership clubs could go down this season, and taking into account these comments from Murray, it is absolutely essential that we aren’t one of the three this time around.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Transfer summary

From a Charlton perspective it was quite a predictable series of events that made up our deadline day dealings. Andersen has gone out on loan to Leeds but can be recalled if either Carson or Myhre pick up knocks. Pouso has signed on a year long loan from Penarol for an initial fee of £350,000 (with a further £1.3m to come if we want to make the deal permanent in 2007), and the forgotten man of SE7 has finally left the club, signing for Middlesbrough in a deal worth up to £300,000.

Nobody really knows too much about the Uruguayan, but he’s supposed to be a ball winner with an eye for goal, so I would assume that the short term plan is to play him in place of Holland in the middle of the park. Pouso and Faye should be an energetic double act in the engine room, and with Reid and Ambrose out on the wings our midfield is starting to take shape. The second choice quartet (Hughes, Holland, Kishishev and Rommedahl) is now pretty much what our midfield was at the end of last season, and with Jerome Thomas still to come back into the fold, things in that area of the pitch now look a lot more secure than have done for most of the summer.

As for Euell, well, he’s a player that I have always respected. Jase scored some vital goals for us during some pretty key seasons as a newly promoted club, and it’s a shame the way his career has gone sideways since the public bust up with Curbs. I remember almost falling off of my chair with surprise when I saw Euell’s face on an advert for the Orange mobile phone network a few years ago. It was the first time I had ever seen a Charlton player involved in a national advertising campaign and if you remember the advert, Euell scored a winning goal at Highbury and went running off in celebration around the streets of London! It was a rubbish advert really, but I remember it fondly because Jason scored at Highbury later in that season (the fourth goal in our 4-2 win), and I remember sitting in the crowd that day half expecting him to jump over the advertising boards and go running off down the road when that ball hit the back of the net.

He was never the most skilful of players, but what he lacked in finesse he made up for in desire and persistence. It's a shame that when most of the football world consider Euell's career at Charlton they wont remember that he was top scorer three years on the spin, they will just remember the last 2 years he has spent in the reserves. At least he still has a chance to prove to the nation that he does still have the ability to perform in the top flight, and I hope he takes that chance with both hands.

All the best in your future career with Middlesborough Jase, and I hope you will recall all of the good times you had at The Valley as vividly as you will remember the bad.