An open letter to Steve Waggott
Congratulations on your apppointment as Charlton's new chief executive. Peter Varney did a fantastic job at balancing emotion, business acumen and public persona. He was a credit to us all, and I know you have been around the club long enough to understand that Charlton and all of us that have them in our hearts, is unlike the many other English football clubs. I wish you all the very best in your newly deserved position.
Charlton's fanbase has grown substantially in the last 10 years, and the board should be credited for encouraging this with clever pricing and a vastly improved Valley that we can all be very proud off.
After living within easy or relatively easy distance of the Valley for my whole life, thirty of which I was a season-ticket holder, I moved late in 2003 to Chicago after taking up a work opportunity. My love for the club has never abated and I follow them in anyway I can, which to be frank this past season has been difficult without any online commentaries, just a extremely slow "in game" service supplied by the official website and a patent lack of television coverage due to our relegation from the Premier League.
This is the first point of my letter to you and I was wondering if this lack of live commentaries will be addressed this pre-season? I understand the license restrictions and how this will infringe on the individuality of cafc.co.uk but last season having no access to commentaries was simply unacceptable to a club of our size with the modern technology available.
For me and others overseas the BBC blocks all form of media anyhow but to friends and relatives in Charlton and Kent the BBC Radio Kent service and it's frequency range is both irregular and poor. We had many games last season when a fan living around the corner from The Valley was unable to pick up radio reception. I would think you'd agree that is crazy?
The other issue that I hope you address in your new position is that of an International Supporters club. There are hundreds and hundreds of Addicks overseas, most probably ex-pats like me who just can't shake the bug, but there are many others, some of whom I have met, that have just adopted that "little club from London SE7."
Following the club's fortunes from the four corners of the world is one thing, but feeling like one belongs is something else entirely, and this does not even contemplate the massive commerical opportunities available that the organisation of overseas Addicks can bring.
Some fans have already endeavoured to constitute independent overseas chapters but the lack of effort made on cafc.co.uk is embarrassing. Still the email address on the International Membership page comes back to sender as failed and unknown. There are many, many Addicks who would love to embrace an International Supporters Club (ISC). One of whom Ken Jennings from Vancouver, the club actually invited to The Valley last year, as part of the Target 40,000 initiative, to layout a blue print for a future ISC. Despite Ken's efforts and a long flight, the ideas from this meeting seemingly have ended up on the cutting room floor.
At that meeting the various attendees agreed a framework of proposals for an ISC, including a dedicated web page with relevant information and a community network to enable foreign based fans get to know each other with links to local fan blogs etc. An annual membership pack, an ability to book tickets, travel and accommodation. Merchandise discounts, a page in the programme and to improve communication, a dedicated contact within the club, this might have been Ben Hayes.
The club's work in communities abroad should be applauded but I think you are missing a very obvious trick, that is fans who don't need to be persauded or cajouled into supporting or help financing the club. At some point in the distant past, we have already swallowed that Addick pill!
I am accutely aware that funds for a lot of projects are hard to find in our current situation, but out there around the globe there are literally hundreds of Addicks sat there in their red shirts wanting to be more of a part of that special something that Charlton gives to us.
Steve, I hope in your new position, you come to realise how laudable a rebirth or should I say, an inauguration of an International Supporters Club would be.
The very best of luck and congratulations again. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your comments.