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22 January 2015

Luzon my religion

So I was wrong. The same office that won't give a visa for people to attend the funeral of their granddaughter is perfectly happy to give one to Guy Luzon.

But maybe that's fair enough. There's clearly a shortage of qualified, experienced managers in the UK. Why, just the other day Katrien Meire interviewed 20 of them. None of them any good.

But after a thorough interview Guy Luzon convinced the sceptical panel. Based on the triumphant press conference, I'd imagine it went something like this:

Katrien: So, Guy, tell us what you know about the English championship.
Guy: Errm. Football. Manchester City? Errm, winning good, losing bad.
Katrien: I think that's all we need to know. Richard, darling, tell the others they can leave now. Watch out for that Italian bloke though, Paolo something. He looks a little temperamental. You have got a work permit, Guy, I assume?
Guy: Liverpool?
Katrien: Great. You start tomorrow. (Gives him a sheet of paper). Here's the team you'll be fielding on Saturday.

Of course, if Luzon turns out to be an inspired, brilliant choice, I'll be the first to eat my ever-so-tasty words. Maybe he can rescue broken, demoralised teams, in the same way that maybe I can play Ravel's notoriously difficult piano-piece Gaspard de la Nuit. I've never tried, so I don't know.

What really rankles is the cheapskate, dishonest way the appointment has been made. Roland Duchatelet has never enjoyed the whole-hearted confidence of the fans. From now on, it's hard to see how he ever will. And the worst thing of all is, he couldn't give a toss.

16 January 2015

Will Guy Luzon actually get a work permit?

My friendly local barrister tells me that immigration lawyers in the UK are mainly lazy, opportunistic charlatans. Surprisingly, then, I am not one, and so you should probably not pay attention to the rest of this blog, in which I will try to understand what's gone on behind the farcical situation that's been revealed today and what the outcome may be.
Charlton are disappointed to announce that Guy Luzon will not be able to take charge of the team at Watford on Saturday due to issues with his UK work permit.
Following his appointment on Tuesday evening, the club had expected the required paperwork to be finalised in time for the Head Coach to take his place in the dugout at Vicarage Road.
However, his work permit was not processed before the required deadline. 
Because Luzon is an Israeli citizen, not an EU national, he has to get a work visa (also known as a work permit) before he can take employment. The fact that he hasn't got one seems to mean that Charlton have broken the law in employing him.

When I first read the news, and after I'd stopped laughing somewhat hysterically, my initial thought was that the famously inefficient Home Office had messed up, or that Charlton had not realised that a work visa was needed (perhaps forgetting that Luzon isn't an EU national), or that they had not submitted the application in time.

But, from what I've read it might be more fundamental than that.

Here are the qualifications you need to get a Tier 2 (Sportsperson) visa, which I think is what Luzon would need.
  • you’re an elite sportsperson or qualified coach recognised by your sport’s governing body as internationally established at the highest level
  • your sport’s governing body is endorsing your application
  • your employment will develop your sport in the UK at the highest level
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland 
  • you meet the other eligibility requirements
  • You need to meet all of them. I think it would be hard to argue that Luzon's record as a coach makes him "internationally established at the highest level" or that his employment would "develop [football] in the UK at the highest level".

    We've seen cases before where foreign players haven't been able to get a work visa, basically because they aren't considered exceptional enough. On his record, Luzon is only exceptional in Roland Duchatelet's head. From my reading of the guidance, there's a very real chance Luzon will not be given a work visa.

    If anyone reading this is a genuine expert in immigration law, I'd be very grateful for your comments.

    11 January 2015

    Charlton 0 Brighton 1

    It was better than last week. Still terrible, of course, but there was a little attempt at playing football, not that it came to anything. The dispiritedness is spreading, and even Bob Peeters is looking depressed: no longer spending the game in the technical area waving his enormous arms in passionate, incomprehensible gestures, he spent large periods sitting in the dugout. Couldn't see his face; imagine it wasn't hard to tell the difference between it and a ray of sunshine.

    A burnt-out shell
    Poor Lawrie Wilson typified the team. He had an awful game, caught between trying too hard and overcomplicating simple situations, and backing out of any chancy decisions or opportunities. It was symptomatic of the loss of confidence that's spreading throughout the squad. Only Chris Solly's late crossbar strike roused any kind of appreciation, and it was almost immediately followed by Brighton's goal. An unnecessary foul by Bikey gave away the kind of set-piece Charlton's fans have learned to fear, and Brighton took a lead, and the 3 points, that possibly neither side deserved.

    But, yes, Charlton deserved them less. Brighton weren't great, but didn't have to be. As every team is finding out these days, when you're playing Charlton all you have to be is organised, patient and willing.

    There's no remedy in sight. Tony Watt looked refreshingly lively when he came on, but it's asking a lot for him to turn around the mood of the whole squad. Reading between the lines of Peeters' statements and Katrien Meire's column in the programme, there's no intention to spend significantly in the transfer window.

    The only hope is that there may be three worse teams in the Championship. So, we're relying on the incompetence of Holloway, Mackay and Clark.

    Hmm.

    We'll be fine.

    03 January 2015

    Charlton 1 Blackburn 2

    For the last 20 minutes of this game, after Yoni Buyens had been sent off, Charlton's already low level of interest in the game dropped to zero, as Blackburn played the ball around with humiliating ease. There was nothing left in Charlton's game: no organisation, no drive, no commitment. They played as if there was absolutely no chance of getting back a goal, and exhibiting no wish to do so. Like the crowd, I suspect, they wouldn't have minded much if Blackburn had scored a third to end the pretence that a match was taking place.

    A few minutes earlier it seemed that things might change. Gudmundsson had scored with a superb free kick - which looked the only way Charlton would score - and the chance was on. But almost immediately Blackburn sliced easily through the defence, and everything fell apart. Charlton had been poor up to that moment. After it they were abject.

    I feel I'm repeating myself, but feel I need to, to make it clear how awful this performance was. Even after you've made allowances - the injuries, the youth of the squad, the lack of a competent, confident striker - there was no excuse for it. It was a broken team, pretending to play football until the clock ran down, but looking like a blindfolded kabaddi team.

    One of the many football cliches is "he's lost the dressing room", and I heard it quite a lot as disgruntled fans left after the game. It's hard to disagree. The team presumably knew they were going to get a bollicking after the match, but didn't care. In November Bob Peeters said he hadn't spoken to the team after the game against Ipswich. That didn't seem like a brilliant action at the time, and now I wonder if it was evidence or cause of a fundamental breakdown in trust and respect. Whatever, he's got a huge job ahead of him in restoring this squad to a functioning team, with or without arrivals in the window.

    And just to cheer everybody up, two facts. Roland Duchatelet was at the game today, I think: a car with reg no RDC 33 was in the car park before the game (he'd left the lights on, by the way, ready for a quick getaway perhaps). And someone told me Tim Sherwood was at the match. Go on, then, rumourmongers: I've given you two and two, put them together!