by RICK EVERITT
At talkSPORT's request, I compiled a list of questions that I would like to see put to Katrien Meire live on air duing their interview earlier today (27/10/16). As listeners will know, Meire had made it a precondition of her appearance that Charlton fans would not be allowed to call in and speak to her.
Of course, I never expected all or most of them to be put to her, but as they were not used on air it seems fair to publish them here as the kind of questions that might have actually thrown some light on the subject - instead of providing her with another platform to waffle.
1. According to your Linkedin page you had only been employed by Roland Duchatelet at Standard Liege since September 2013 when you arrived at The Valley in January 2014. You appear to have no prior senior management or professional football experience. What is it in your background you feel equips you to run Charlton and don’t the outcomes both on and off the pitch since you took over – including the loss of 4,000 season-ticket holders this year - suggest that you are part of the problem? After nearly three years, shouldn’t you be judged on results?
2. Can you clarify why as chief executive you are not paid by the football club or its holding company Baton 2010, as confirmed by the 2014 and 2015 accounts? English company law requires disclosure of the remuneration of the highest paid director. Charlton’s accounts say none is paid. Are you in fact employed by Charlton at all, and if not why not?
3. You have repeatedly said that Roland Duchatelet has put a lot of money into the club, although all of it is loans. Hasn’t the vast majority of it been spent on signing players who are no longer part of the squad at Charlton? Since the team has been relegated, and you have four expensive players out on subsidised season-long loans because you can’t sell them, doesn’t that mean the money has been wasted?
4. There have been numerous staff departures in recent years, including people you yourself recruited to senior positions. The club has had no head of communications since 2013; the one you appointed in early 2016 walked out after 45 days in protest at the publication of a statement attacking fans on the official website. The matchday stadium announcer of 20 years recently quit and is now a leading figure in the protests. Why are you unable to retain the support of such people?
5. You have tried to use the small Fans’ Forum group and another called the Target 20,000 committee (which you selected) to argue that you consult supporters. Yet many fans who attended the forum and began with an open mind and positive approach were so unconvinced by what you had to say there over many months that they are now prominent supporters of CARD. Why is it that people who have sat round the table with you and listened to what you have had to say are now helping to lead the fight to get you and Mr Duchatelet to leave?
6. If Roland Duchatelet has any genuine interest in Charlton, why has he only attended two matches at The Valley since he took over, both in 2014? Do you accept that the message this sends to Charlton supporters is that he has no emotional connection to the club and no interest in football other than as a business?
7. Player recruitment has been a controversial issue since Chris Powell said that players he did not know about, in positions he did not feel a need to strengthen, were imposed on him in 2014. Powell has said on talkSPORT that he was pressured to select these players. You have previously denied it. Why should fans believe you over Chris Powell?
8. Two and a half years on from Powell, the name of Thomas Driesen, a 20-something Belgian computer analyst, has recently emerged as a key figure, including featuring in 2014 email chains alongside you, Roland Duchatelet, Chris Powell and no one else. He was even given his own nickname at the training ground, Mowgli, because of his wild hair. He said in a recent newspaper interview (South London Press) that he is still involved to the same extent as before and that he accepts a share of the blame for the team’s relegation. What is his involvement, why was his identity concealed for two and a half years and what are his qualifications? If he overstating his role in the press, why do you, as chief executive, allow him to do this?
9. Your chief operating officer, Tony Keohane, went to Leyton Orient with an architect in January to look at the way they have built flats in the corners of the pitch. Can you confirm that there will be no residential development of The Valley under Roland Duchatelet’s ownership and that recouping his investment by property development – as he has done at Sint-Truiden, which he also owns – will not happen at Charlton?
10. You recently said in a statement that mistakes had been made in the 2015/16 season and this had caused the fans to become “disengaged”? Isn’t it actually the case that mistakes have been made continuously since January 2014, starting with the sale of Yann Kermorgant to Bournemouth, and with numerous player signings in each subsequent transfer window, and that is why fans now look at the league table and don’t believe the club can ever be successful with you and Mr Duchatelet involved?