Open Letter to Katrien Meire

A Personal View from Albury

Open Letter to Charlton CEO Katrien Meire

Dear Ms Meire

I am writing this letter asking you to resign your position as Chief Executive of Charlton Athletic Football Club.

When you arrived as CEO, the club was struggling through lack of funds, but it had an excellent young committed manager in Chris Powell with a core of talented, experienced players and some exciting young talent emerging. It also had a passionate and committed fan base.

Since your arrival, we have sold or given away our best players, Yann Kermogant, Dale Stephens, Michael Morrison, Rhys Wiggins, Ben Hamer, Joe Gomez and Diego Poyet nearly all of whom now play for clubs either in the Premiership or in the upper reaches of the Championship.The players that have arrived to replace them ( on whom we have incredibly spent £9million pounds !!) have been largely foreign imports with no experience of Championship football or its physical demands and have mostly failed. Over this short period, you have also presided over the dismissal of 4 team managers and have either dismissed or lost a huge range of backroom staff, many of whom had many years service to the club, Alex Dyer, Ben Roberts, Damian Matthew, Nathan Jones, Phil Chapple, Paul Hart, to name a few.

The fan base is withering before your eyes with continuing and rapid crowd decline – these are your paying customers, these are the business stakeholders who are voting with their feet. It might interest you to know that of the 11 season ticket holders who sit with me, only 1 turned up for the Sheffield Wednesday game. Obviously, the results are paramount in football and much of the disenchantment stems from that. However, club loyalty is tribal and belonging is essential and you have managed to alienate the supporter base and greatly weaken the sense of belonging through lack of sensible communication and poor decision making. The embarrassing ‘score on the pitch’ video was a particular example of poor judgement, which reflected badly on the club and your leadership.

Under any measure of organisational performance, I do not think it would be possible for you to argue that the club is successful.Having worked for many years in a series of Chief Executive positions, it has always been my understanding that the buck stops with the Chief Executive for the failure of an organisation. Furthermore, football is a particularly precarious profession to earn your living as your own swift response to failing managers clearly demonstrates.

I am sure that you have worked hard to achieve success and that your intentions are genuine but sometimes it just doesn’t work out and on this occasion you have palpably failed

The honourable and appropriate action for you to take therefore is to resign your position immediately and for the club to seek an experienced and competent replacement who has sufficient gravitas and determination to deal with the club’s absentee owner and re-establish a productive dialogue with all Charlton supporters.

Yours Sincerely

Albury Addick

8 thoughts on “Open Letter to Katrien Meire

  1. Completely agree. You know of course it will fall on deaf ears but if it means that you have got if off your chest then well done. It is shame that the whole current Charlton debacle do not have your ability to communicate professionally and sensitively

  2. A very well put and accurate open letter, there is no doubt that what’s required is experience of not only the Championship but also Premier division if you are seeking that path. While Ms Meire should have had the backbone to decline the job purely on lack of experience the question must be asked was she a fait accompli by Mr. Duchatelet. In this club as in any club the fans who pay your salary have every right to protest in a peaceful manner and insulting them as you have done will not resolve the dire situation Charlton are currently in.

    Footballing pundits outside of the club identified Charlton as a relegation team based upon its management, lack of money and very small squad. Added to this there views on lack of senior players to guide the new arrivals and loss of quality players and you can see how they arrived at their prediction. There can be only one way forward that being more investment in the team as a priority, the appointment of an English qualified manager and regrettably your removal as CEO and establishment of a English footballing CEO with prior experience.

    Yours sincerely

    Dawmed (Charlton since 1958)

  3. Response – It’s time to get a little more realistic!

    As a fellow Charlton fan and season ticket holder, I agree with some things you have have said here. However, there some glaring omissions of facts and naevity regarding some of your comments and I have to say some things being brought up again are now just starting to grate.i.e. Kermogant and Stephens…..Just let it go!

    In short, I think some of your criticisms are not allowing for some pretty obvious facts of why things have happened the way they have and are not completely balanced.

    It is also noticeable that your letter falls short of asking for Duchatlet to get rid of us and is something else that I hear said quite often. I can only assume you realise they if they did get fed up with our constant whinging and decided to go off and support another club, we would really be in the mire (like our pitch not so long ago). Let’s face it when Slater and Co. were trying to sell us, there wasn’t much of a queue of potential buyers with pots of money. Without his interest and investment, we would have a very uncertain future,

    Starting with the sale of our players – lets take a step back to the time before Duchatlet. Following promotion to Championship, Chris Powell and the team did absolute marvels in the first year with a wage bill that was in the bottom 3 of the division. However, it was blatently obvious that we didn’t have a pot to spit in when over the summer we spent absolutely no money and Chris did his best to wheel and deal. The youngsters we brought in at the time (particularly Cousins and Poyet) were incredible as we had no money to buy anyone. They probably saved us from relegation. However, it was also very obvious that unless someone came in to buy us quickly, we were going to the wall.

    Duchalet came in early 2014 and Kermogant and Stephens left in the January 2014 window. At that time the owners had only just landed and needed to look at what we could do to shake things up. Kermogant and Stephens were our only saleable assets at the time and there contracts were running out at the end of the season. Rightly or wrongly it was decided to cash in and try and do somethng with the money and by doing that and adding to the squad some players from Standard Liege. With regards to Kermogant, it has become common knowledge that Bournemouth had offered quite a bit more money and were prepared to offer a 2 year deal that we couldn’t (or wasn’t prepared) to match. Remembering that Yann was 32 at the time. All in all – it was not quite a straight-forward as the new onwers selling off our best players etc.”. It was also the case that the SL players (particularly that goal keeper) just wasn’t very good. It was a calculated risk and it didn’t really pay off. One thing that was good – although we didn’t know it at the time – was the appointment of Jose Riga, who did a very good job considering the circumstances and did not just play SL players.

    Diego Poyet – another player who was out of contract – we offered a deal but in the end – let’s face it we got a reasonable amount of money for him and he is still unproven. He currently is not good enough to get into West Ham’s team and is not setting the world alight with his displays on loan. I was always of the opinion Jordan Cousins was and is a better player. Let’s not forget he has signed a new contract and he has attracted much attention.

    Rhoys Wiggins – let’s face it we would not have sold him if he hadn’t been palgued with recurrent and serious injuries – note – he didn’t play against us last week. Also Morgan Fox is pretty good.

    Ben Hamer has the option to go to a premiership club and earn loads more money – we can’t compete when this happens. Joe Gomez – ditto. You just have to be realistic that when premiership clubs are offering much more money and the opportunity to play in the top league to players – there is only going to be one outcome and we have to do the best with what money we get for them.

    The beginning of the Bob Peeters era wasn’t bad – with some great additions to the team – Gudmunddson and Vetokele – and there were a couple of others that were in and out – the new centre back pairing of Ben Haim and Bikey started very impressively. However, BP made a massive mistake in not playing and eventually selling Morrison – that was lunency – I get the impression this was much more of a BP decision and not much to do with KM.

    Let’s not also forget at this time the money spent on the ground improvements and in particular the pitch. If Vetokele had remained fit for the season – we definitely would have faired better and let’s hope the latest surgery get’s him back to what he was like when he first joined us.

    In the end BP got found out and I was never completely convinced with Guz Luzon. One thing your letter doesn’t do is to highlight the the fact that these managers appointed were not up to it. They didn’t have the experience or understanding to work in the Championship. I actually think it was a big mistake to let Jose Riga go. I am sure he would have done better than both BP and GL and had already proven what he could do in the time he had with us.

    Lets not also forget the money spent on bringing our academy and training facilities up to a higher level – without this investment we would not be able to continue with the outstanding youth policy and would be losing even more young talent even quicker and for even less compensation.

    We have also had some recent great additions such as Tony Watt, Patrick Bauer, Ahmed Kashi and Simon Makinok on loan has been great. On the mention of SM – what a fantastic attitute he has got.

    In conclusion – it is not all doom and gloom. We currently have a firm financial footing behind the club – perhaps the most stable it has been since we were in the premiership. There has been investment – not just in players but also in the ground and Academy that cannot be overlooked. Also remember SL have now been sold! At least the old line that “we are just feeder club to SL” cannot be trotted out anymore.

    We have some good players – we have some very promising young players – Lookman being the latest. Do we need a new manager? – yes we do and one that has a better pedigree. I agree we cannot afford to get it wrong again without it resulting in us likely getting relagated. Do we need more players? – yes we do – the squad is too small and we have ongoing injury problems. If we don’t spend some money to strengthen the team in January – there is a good chance we will get relegated.

    I actually like Katrein Miere and don’t think she is getting a fair hearing . I really believe she is not just a CEO but is also a fan of the club. She is very approachable and if you have ever spoken to her, you would see that she feels many of the same frustrations and concerns – despite some absolutely unacceptable behaviour towards her. She is in a position to influence change and she is trying to do it. I am not saying there haven’t been mistakes along the way and how many of those have been down to KM – it is hard to say. However, I go back to the view you and alot of the critics need to be more balanced and just sprouting alot of old nonsence isn’t very useful.

    Regards.

    Phil

    Phil

    • Phil
      I don’t think that I am just ‘sprouting a load of old nonsense’ I am sure that Ms Meire is a very nice and intelligent person and great to talk to . That is not the issue, nor is the ownership of Mr Duchatelet. The issue is whether she is the best CEO for the club and whether she is doing a good job . I would argue that she fails on both counts. If I were to use a business analogy on one element of her leadership alone. If I was CEO of Waitrose and during my tenure over an 18 month period , I had employed 5 different Operations Directors ( the equivalent of the football manager i.e the guys who make it happen out on the business pitch) and dismissed 4 of them and then employed the 5th who had been running the local corner shop , I think the Board and stakeholders would be questioning whether I was the right person for the CEO’s job.
      To bring it back to Charlton , in my analysis above I didn’t even mention the great season ticket debacle which Ms Meire incorrectly blamed on the Royal Mail.

  4. Interesting take on things from Phil and just goes to show that two people can never agree on something so personal as they their beloved club is run – on and off the pitch. Having read it through twice I am not sure that the two are a million miles away from each other. The chief difference is that Phil has had the opportunity (it seems) to converse with Katrein and the rest of us haven’t because she will not speak to mere mortal supporters.

    How Phil came to do this is anybody’s guess and you might say that what a pity that someone with a rather skewed view of what is happening at the Valley should have that opportunity and missed it or you could say that Phil should be our representative as he clearly can communicate.

    The main point Phil makes is that the changes that have been made in terms of infrastructure have been fantastic. No one takes that away from RD. What he has palpably failed to do is to share his vision of CAFC with the supporters and as anyone knows that has run a company or two you are nothing if you don’t have good customer relationships.

    Yes football fans are tribal and often blindly follow their club (I have been a fanatical supporter since 1957) but the future relies on new enthusiastic supporters arriving on the terraces. If CAFC are to prosper – and you have to presume that RD wants his investment to grow or at least to be protected. With West Ham about to move to a big new stadium and other local clubs offering alternative opportunities he has got to do something to make sure we are an attractive and viable proposition. and stop the haemorrhage of support.

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