Controversial addition to FA governing body.
Late Sunday night, news broke of a new appointment to the FA Council. Charlton Athletics’ Chief Executive, Katrien Meire, has been brought in by the FA to act as one of eight representatives from the Football League on their governing body. Her addition should come as a shock to many. Along with her employer, Ronald Duchatelet, Meire has caused considerable heartache in SE7. Their actions have caused the Charlton faithful to galvanise once again, like they have many times before, and bind together against what they perceive as an evil in their corridors of power.
With the new season underway, the imaginative protests held at Valley will still be fresh in many people’s memory. The mock funeral procession through the streets of South London, and the seemingly endless supply of beach balls thrown onto the home pitch last season, both highlighted how disgruntled the supporters had become. Their frustration wasn’t just at being relegated, it went deeper than that. These were the actions of fans who had felt mistreated, misunderstood, and more importantly disregarded.
Earlier in the year I wrote an article (Football Is Nothing Without Fans) on this site about the situation at Charlton. For those that didn’t read it and don’t know of the circumstances behind the continuing protests that have been organised by Charlton Against Ronald Duchatelet (CARD), let me briefly explain. Duchatelet owns a number of clubs around Europe, having no history or experience within the football world. He has used his stable of teams to move managers and players around as he sees fit, often putting inexperienced individuals into positions that they weren’t qualified for. His management style and method of running a club has been called ‘deluded’ by Former CAFC striker Yann Kermongant. The fan favourite gave the impression from his direct experiences, that Duchatelet really does not know how to run a football club. The relationship between the board and the fans had been rocking since the ownership took control. This wasn’t helped when Duchatelet gave his former lawyer, Meire, the role of Chief Executive. Although it was initially good to see a woman being given such a high profiled football position, it soon became apparent she was not fit for the role. With only a single comment she managed to completely destroy any possibility of board and fan cohesion, when she referred to loyal supporters as ‘customers’. Since then there has been no turning back for CARD.
In her short time in the role, she has shown a complete lack of appreciation with how important fans are to any club. As Chief Exec on the board, she has also appeared to lack any understanding of running a team. She is the person who carries out Duchatelet’s master plan; therefore considerable blame is attributed at her door for the ridiculous way Charlton has been run in recent years. But despite all this, the FA has seen fit to appoint her to an influential group of people.
The FA Council is made up of board members from across the football pyramid. They are there in order to work together to, as stated on their website, “deliver an effective and professional organisation for the greater good of English football”. This governing body are essentially there to make and enforce rules. They exist to ensure that the sport we all love is preserved so that we can continue to enjoy it. This appointment seemingly goes against their objectives. Promoting someone who has shown a disregard for supporters, a distain for the strong intertwined relationship Charlton Athletic has with its loyal fans, suggests that the FA is moving further away from truly representing the football values we all believe in.
Without fans, football is nothing. Over the years there have been many justified fan protests over wide ranging issues. The majority of the time, clubs have realised their mistakes and worked with supporters to resolve them. This has shown both the strength of fans when working together and the strength of board members to realise that they need a strong bond with supporters. So far at Charlton this hasn’t happened. Instead, the schism is growing larger every day. The FA are supposed to work for the good of the game, employing someone who is partly responsible for tearing apart a great community club simply makes a mockery of our great game, and us as fans.