In a season where communications, or lack of, have been one of the key themes for Brentford supporters trying to get our heads around the club’s new direction it seems there is a similar sentiment across London at Charlton Athletic. That said, the ‘problems’ faced by the Bees seem miniscule compared to those at the Valley. Yet given how raw last season’s ‘Village-gate’ affair still feels to many, yesterday’s press release from the Addicks has struck a chord in what some might deem a similar scenario. Namely, that of a patronising and nonsense packed ‘official statement’ on a club website.
‘Football is a village’ is a line that will be forever steeped in infamy at Griffin Park. If ever we were looking for an opposite to, “They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup” then here it was. To this day, I still don’t know who came up with that gumph, who thought it was our best response to the leaked stories surrounding Mark Warburton and why, in retrospect, nobody has come out and suggested we might have played that one a little bit better. Still, enough has been said about that sad event on these pages to warrant further discourse (although if you’d like to read more…..)
Then, yesterday, it all come flooding back as the Charlton media team decided to crank the Village factor up to 11. To be fair, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Sunday’s home win against Middlesbrough which, hot off the back of a victory at Griffin Park has given them renewed hope of survival, was one marred by a number of protests against Roland Duchatelet and chief executive Katrien Meire.
Amongst other things, a coffin made an appearance whilst several whistles in the crowd did their best to disrupt the players. Kick off was followed by a deluge of beach balls onto the pitch and several fans walked out on 74 minutes – to signify the amount of goals Charlton have shipped so far this term. There was even a somewhat unsavoury pitch invasion which, against type, the watching Sky TV cameras gave full prominence to .
I can sympathise with the club in wanting to do something. Likewise, they’ve even waited on this until Tuesday in order to let the immediate heat go out of the situation and then give it their most considered response. But there are ways of doing something and then ways of doing something. If I didn’t know better I’d suggest our own comms team had been transferred out of Griffin Park and taken up residence at The Valley.
“Last Sunday, some individuals did not come to The Valley to watch the game and support the team, but came to create disorder on the pitch and interfere with the players and the game. Disorder which is, allegedly, needed to drive change in ownership and management”
Those aren’t my words but the opening salvo of a ‘toys out the pram’ response that makes the football village seem almost Shakespearean in comparison.
Other ‘highlights’ include, “Some individuals seem to want the club to fail. This is a confused approach, since following this logic leads to exactly the opposite of what we all want: staying in the Championship” and
“Allegations regarding the CEO are misrepresented and are continuously used as a method to discredit and fuel personal abuse, hatred and with a risk to personal safety”.
You can read the full statement on the Charlton website. It’s a sorry state of affairs for their supporters, many of whom I have no doubt are backing the team to the hilt. Instead, at this time of need, they are all being tarred with a brush of ne’er do wells in a statement that reeks of paranoia.
Football is, without doubt, something bordering on a religion and obsession to many. It is part and parcel of our lives, our friendships are based around it whilst, for many, the choice of club is a generational thing handed down by parents keen to pass on the torch. Simply put, we are bound to our teams in a symbiotic relationship where everything that happens to them impacts us one way or another.
Sure, Charlton had to make some sort of reaction. Yet given the frustrations which have been building over the course of this season and came to a head on Sunday, doing it in such a fashion is yet another example of a club owner’s failure when it comes to making friends and influencing people.
For all those unhappy with certain aspects at Brentford this year, please have some perspective. Whilst we’ve certainly hit a bump in the road on the pitch, off the field Matthew Benham and his team have started to open up more to the fans in the last week whilst you can’t deny he is a Brentford fan through and through.
Football isn’t a village, it’s more than that. Our top brass would do well to continue realising that.
Please let’s not ever release a statement like this (again).