I've started to see a number of views from different sources about the benefits a 'feeder club' kind of system can bring us, but I personally cannot see any benefit for us in this particular case. The point that seems to be missed over and over is that Standard Liege are not a big club.
We aren't talking about Barca or Madrid, or Juve or Milan even Chelsea, Manchester United or City where an arrangement of this type could have obvious advantages. Aligning ourselves with one of the major teams in Europe might well be an intelligent thing to do, but that is not what is happening here.
In this instance, we are talking about Standard Liege. We are talking about a team that finished bottom of their Europa Cup group. Guess who else were in that group - Salzburg, Esbjerg and Elfborg. Hardly big hitters in terms of European football. Liege managed ONE point in their group.
A single point out of six games. Both Wigan and Swansea picked up more points in their respective groups than Liege could manage. I mean no disrespect to any of these clubs, I am merely trying to demonstrate that by accepting this arrangement we are selling ourselves short.
It's not even as if Liege has an embarrassment of quality youth players that are knocking on the door of the team but can't get in. We've seen what 'riches' Liege can offer and they have thus far come up short in terms of quality. Why would we want to be a feeder club to a second rate European team?
They might be the best team in Belgium, but what does that count for? Not a lot because the majority of the sides in the Jupila Pro League would be hard pushed in our Championship.
I also think about what might happen if one of our young players refuses to go to Liege? What if they don't want to move away from their families for long periods? You can hardly blame them at such a young age. Will that then see them frozen out at Charlton? Will their own development become stifled because they aren't willing to play ball with the regime?
What happens when heads are turned and one of our prospects becomes much sought after, will Duchatelet sell them to a team outside his network for their true value or is he more likely to sell them on the cheap to Liege or another one of his clubs? I think we know the answer to this as he is doing his best to keep his own money circulating around his network.
We need to keep investing in our own academy system and use the players that come through for our own development as a club. This is something that we have been doing to good effect, we have blooded some very good youngsters over the past couple of seasons. Our hot prospects should be ours and ours alone.
We do not need to swap players with Liege because their fringe players are no better than ours, I would go as far to say that the ones we have currently are worse than our own. We have a good academy, that is why Duchatelet has acquired us. He wants to siphon off our biggest asset in the hope of improving Liege on the cheap, thus making him even more money.
This entire thing is a disgrace and I find it incredulous that the Football League can allow such things to happen. They should be protecting the clubs in their divisions from this type of behaviour. It's not going to benefit English football as a whole if this kind of model catches on as all the best home-grown players are farmed out around Europe and are replaced with second rate understudies.
We should not accept this arrangement, it will be at the detriment to the development and ambition of Charlton Athletic, not to mention the damage it could do to our own domestic game. But what can we do to stop it? I really have no idea.