Normally at weekends I like to try and bring you some light news or comic relief. This weekend it is beyond me as I have suffered a personal tragedy. The cause of sadness is not mine alone but is shared by all other supporters of Charlton Athletic Football Club far and wide.
The writing has been on the dressing room wall for some time but Charlton were yesterday relegated to Division 2 (or the old Division 3 if you are ancient like me). It was just two seasons ago that the team was playing in the Premier League and one fears where we’ll be headed come this time next year.
I am told it will be 29 years since Charlton last played at that level and I certainly remembered those days when just a few thousand ambled through the turnstiles to take their place on the steep, empty terraces. A lot has happened since them, the beloved Valley was lost (the largest capacity league ground in England in its heyday), ground sharing was endured, and then it was back to the Valley, the Premiership twice and now...?
When I logged on this morning I saw the headline – “Soccer club to reimburse fans for pitiful performance.” Were the directors of Charlton going to stop the pay of their underperforming players and hand the money over to the fans instead? Sadly no.
It was a German Bundesliga report where they players of Energie Cottbus are to reimburse the entrance fee of their 600 fans that made the trip to Gelsenkirchen to watch their team lose 4-0 at Schalke 04 on Saturday.
In a press release headed “Sorry” the club stated: “By refunding the cost of admission for their supporters, the red and whites would like to apologise for the pitiful performance which they displayed at the Veltins Arena.”
Well on that basis Charlton supporters would be a pretty wealthy bunch as given the number of “pitiful” performances this season the players would have handed over a lot of their dosh. However it is true of soccer fans everywhere be they from Charlton or Energie Cottbus that we’d happily swap the money for points in the league any day of the week.
So today I shed a red tear – I do so in the knowledge that they’ll be joined by many other tears – red, white, blue, green perhaps even yellow –in the coming few weeks as the relegation places are decided. Come August our hearts will be filled with optimism again but for Charlton there will also be a sense of trepidation should Division 3 or financial ruin beckon in 12 months time.