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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah I noticed this interview at the time and it has been on my mind ever since. This year truly is all about survival and if Dowie keeps us up I will consider it a successful season, and we'll happily have him back next year. I would, however, question how much some of these signings justified the risk. You could argue that it is the managers job to worry about the team and not the club, but I certainly think Curbishley was always thinking about the club as a whole throughout his tenure. 3.7m for Diawara, 2m for Traore and JFH's wage bill could all be on the list of regrets for this season whilst Carson, Faye, Pouso and Reid should all make reasonable contributions and justify the money. A relegation battle this year is certainly not too hard to imagine.

1:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dont mind the spend as long as we get a good retunr on investment. On paper we look fantstic - but it aint happening - the team should of consolidated by now and I for one will be looking for Iain Dowie to get the performance required out of the current squad who we know are capable of doing it - down to Dowie then to get the most out of the team an quickly.

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