Wednesday 3 June 2020

At last, the White Knights

Finally, finally, after tears of ownership neglect, rotten conmen and salivating wannabes, we may finally have an interested buyer who ticks all the boxes. A Tweet from Rick Everitt this evening finally gave us the news we have all been waiting for years - the promise of decent ownership. Men we can trust and who have the wherewithal to sort out the mess our club now is. 'White Knights' probably isn't an acceptable metaphor any longer, so forgive me if you are offended, but it feels right to me in the circumstances. 

The good news is that Andrew Barclay has been working with ex-CEO Peter Varney for several months at least on a rescue deal. Varney needs no justification from me but for the record he presided over the golden age of our Premiership years and he was the architect behind the redevelopment of the Valley, the Target-Umpteen Thousand initiatives, Valley Express, the attractive ticketing and marketing propositions the club became famous for (Kid for a Quid), the development of the Community Trust and generally a time when all Charlton supporters felt especially proud of what our club stood for.  I should also include Rick Everitt in this as he held several key club positions during this era and would have been the font of much of the data and intuition about our fan-base that made the club so successful during these years. Rick gets a hard deal from some because he speaks his mind and can be prickly, but never doubt his loyalty to CAFC and his professionalism as a journalist throughout.

Andrew Barclay is the grandson of the Barclay Brothers, the owners of the Ritz Hotel and the Daily Telegraph. They are worth c £3bn but we need to be careful here as they are currently sueing their sons (including Andrew's father) over the sale of the Ritz, so we shouldn't jump at implied wealth. Andrew was part founder in the online estate estate YOPA and has clearly made decent money from its sale. I am not convinced he has money to throw about but if Varney has hitched his wagon then I am satisfied he can pay his way. 

The key pointer for me this evening is why break the news now? They are telling us that ESI have yet to fully engage and we know there are vultures circling. Sky reported interest of a Portugese consortium today which looked powder-puff and perhaps like an attempt to have been considered an interested party? We know Huw Jenkins has made a bid and I am sure, given his background, that it will be realistic. So why now? Hopefully it's because they want to go in for the kill and not because they are worried this may have moved away from them. 

The tragedy, of course, is that the deal needs to be concluded with men who clearly have failed already to live up to the aspirations of good investors, serious owners or, indeed, who can be considered trustworthy. We need to rely upon the over-riding contractual clauses Duchatelet has with ESI to keep people honest as well as the complexities of the ex-Directors claims. 

The belief that 'good will out' and natural justice gives us hope that Barclay and Varney will prevail and we should all hope and pray that it comes to pass.

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