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I thought all the controversy surrounding VAR had settled down last season and that those responsible for administering it were achieving a good level of consistency in decision making, and that the widespread criticism from managers and players of previous seasons was subsiding.


Well, if the first few weeks of the season are anything to go by, the VAR system has taken a massive step backwards. Nobody watching the Chelsea v Spurs match could have failed to see Chelsea left-back Marc Cucurella having his hair pulled at a corner by Cristian Romero. Referee Anthony Taylor had a clear view of the incident but decided to take no action. Mike Dean as the VAR official then decided not to ask Taylor to view the incident on the pitch side monitor. To make matters worse, a few days later Dean confirmed he had made a mistake.


In the Crystal Palace v Aston Villa match, the ball hit the hand of Villa player Lucas Digne when he went up for an aerial challenge. There was no intent involved and it was completely accidental. Nothing was given by the referee and rightly so, but VAR got involved and a penalty was awarded, which was a wrong decision in my view. Doubtless an apology will follow from the Premier League this week.


I also fail to understand the decision making around the sending offs in the Chelsea v Spurs match of the two managers. If a player is sent off, he misses the next match, and the same should apply to managers. Why on earth is it necessary to wait for the reasons to be written out by the FA. That doesn’t happen with a player so managers should be dealt with in the same way. The television pictures give you all the evidence and detail you need.


Both should serve a touchline ban. Having said that, even the most partisan of Chelsea fans would have to admit that Thomas Tuchel was the aggressor and deserved the heavier fine. After Chelsea scored, he raced down the touchline celebrating past Conte which in itself is a yellow card offence and then at the end of the match as Conte went to shake Tuchel’s hand Tuchel clearly pulled Conte around and provoked the confrontation. Doubtless he was frustrated that Chelsea had not won a match they deserved to but that is not Conte’s fault. It is not a good example to set for kids watching on TV.

In the coming weeks, VAR needs to prove it is a credible solution to mistakes made in open playand managers need to stop acting like prima donnas and behave on the touchline.


Charlton returned to The Valley in 1992
Credit: Charlton FC

In 1992, it was my 32nd season following Charlton and in all those years I turned up on a match day and took my seat with not a prawn sandwich in sight. We had a regular parking spot in the Cawood’s front car park on the Woolwich Road.

In the 60s, I had stood on the east terrace with my dad and later moved to the covered end before progressing to the west stand lower when I was employed by the club. My dad would have hated the west stand (although not as much as Selhurst and Upton Park) as the fans there were too quiet for him! I have always bought my own season tickets and never took up my seats in the directors’ box apart from season 2011-12, for operational reasons.

I never really felt a connection with any manager until Lennie Lawrence came along, and it was for that reason I approached his testimonial committee in 1992 offering to organise a testimonial dinner for him. In my letter to the committee, I told them I believed a minimum of 500 people could be achieved. The feedback I got at the time was that the committee wondered if I was a total fruit cake, although Steve Sutherland vouched for me.

It didn’t matter too much because Lennie left to move to Middlesbrough and so that was the end of the discussion. Or was it? I thought about it and decided that I would go ahead with the event but re-classify it as the Back to the Valley Celebration Dinner. I approached the club and was asked to a meeting at The Valley where I sat for an hour beyond the agreed meeting time. I was told that my target of a minimum of 500 people was not achievable, so they declined to support it. I approached the Supporters Club and finally found a group of people who believed in me. The best response I could give all the doubters was that the dinner was attended by 700 Charlton fans and was the biggest Charlton fan dinner ever.

It became an annual event and I remained involved up to the 10th dinner, as well as the Centenary Dinner in 2005. Every single dinner sold out with a minimum of 500 guests. George Best, Denis Law and Jack Charlton were amongst the many guest speakers. Steve Sutherland was the host of every event and never charged a penny, not that I would have paid him anyway!!

Because I was the event organiser for all those years, I have a lot of video and DVD content that has never been seen before and I owe a great debt to my close friend David Moss for all his great production and editing work over many years. We had some great fun making the videos with the brilliant Brian Moore, Jim Rosenthal and Gabriel Clarke adding their unique commentary skills to the content.

Now that we are celebrating 30 years since our return to The Valley, I plan to share it in small doses throughout this season and am discussing how that is done with Steve Sutherland in his role as Chair of the 30th Anniversary Committee. I hope Charlton fans everywhere will enjoy

what they see and that it brings back some fond memories.

The new football season is almost upon us, and it is that time of year that football fans are full of hope for the coming season and optimism outweighs reality. 


In the Premier League, both Manchester City and Liverpool have strengthened their already impressive squads and I expect them to dominate at the top of the league once again.

As with last season, I expect City to come out on top but without doubt their biggest priority will be the Champions League and I expect them to finally win that also. They dominated Real Madrid over both legs of the semi-final last season, and it is still a mystery to me how they lost the tie in five mad minutes after Madrid hardly mustered a chance over 90 minutes in the second leg. I think City will re-think how they approach the League Cup and FA Cup this season as a result.

Tottenham and Arsenal have also done some astute business in the transfer market this summer and I expect them to qualify for the remaining two Champions League places.

At the other end of the table, this could be a difficult season for a number of clubs, and I think Southampton, Brentford and Everton will struggle. But it will be tough for the three promoted clubs - Fulham, Bournemouth and Nottingham Forest - to bridge the massive gap that now exists between the top two divisions and I do expect them to fill the three relegation places.


In the Championship, the disparity in finance between the sides who have the parachute payments and those who don’t is enormous and for that reason I take Norwich City, Watford and Burnley to be in the final shake up for promotion back to the Premier League. I expect the surprise package to be QPR. Michael Beale is a talented and highly rated coach and has taken Damien Matthew with him. Damien coached the League One Championship winning side at Charlton. I think they will be a strong team and have a major impact on QPR.


League One has some big clubs in it and will perhaps be the most competitive league next season. There are around 12 teams who would expect to be challenging for promotion and I think the points share will be very close. I take Sheffield Wednesday to take the league title, as much I’m desperate to say Charlton. 


I have a vested interest in Walsall in League Two and the new owners are going about building the club in the right way and I am rooting for them to take the League Two title.


It is three months since the last EFL season ended and I for one am ready for my weekly dose of football. This will be a strange season with a World Cup in Qatar in the middle of it but that gives the season an added spice and I have high hopes for England, particularly as the competition is not taking place after a long hard season and the players will be in peak condition.

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