Monday 28 September 2020

The dawning of a new era - Lincoln City 2 v Charlton Athletic 0

Annoyingly, I was in hospital on Friday and this weekend, so have missed out on the opportunity to report on all the excitement of Thomas Sandgaard's successful takeover over of Charlton Athletic Football Club.

When I surfaced from the anaesthetic on Friday around 5pm, I had over 200 emails, texts and WhatsApps messages - I knew it had happened before I opened the first message. Absolutely brilliant news which made me shout out aloud in my bed! The last four years in particular have been extremely tough for us Addicks but it now looks certain that we have a decent, responsible, ambitious and wealthy owner who can give us a desperately needed period of stability and investment which should, once again, raise the fortunes of the club.

Thomas Sandgaard looks heaven-sent. A genuinely engaging man who appears to be very down-to-earth and who has fallen for CAFC in a way all of us once did. His enthusiasm is wonderful and when he tells you repeatedly that he can't believe his luck and that Charlton look so much better a prospect every time he looks, you know we have struck lucky. I think we all know how special this club is and how great it can be and, as fans, have always wondered why others cannot see what we do so clearly.

It is incredibly sad that he cannot get an audience with 27,111 of us in full voice to truly welcome him to The Valley and to put the Fear of God into League One opposition. The second wave makes it look very likely that he will have to wait another year for the full effect. Another year of bearing heavy operating losses but still he wasn't deterred. 

So to yesterday's game then. You just knew we would lose. It's the Charlton way. The bigger the build-up, the bigger the disappointment. Lincoln are one of the fancied sides in this division and went top last night with Doncaster Rovers who also beat us last week. However, they looked distinctly average to me and we matched them in that.

We looked powder-puff up front with Washington and Bonne unable to find any space and creating very little. Washington had our best chance of the game on 3 minutes when twisting in the box and firing a shot back across the goal which skimmed the post. After that, it was all huff and puff. Liam Bridcutt once again lead us a dance in midfield but we had plenty of possession but just couldn't find the space to play in. Oztumer is a trier but, for me, he simply doesn't deliver. Dylan Levitt was a high point on his midfield debut as was Akin Famewo at centre-half. 

What lost us the game was the carelessness of Oshilaja and Pratley. Oshilaja can become a far better player but he has to be a better tackler in order to do that. For me, he gave away a stone wall penalty on 35 minutes when he bundled Anderson over in the box but there wasn't a strong appeal by the Imps and the ref let it ride. Just before the break, Pratley handled on the edge of the area giving away a dangerous free-kick. We charged that down but from the resulting play, Pratley bundled Hopper over and Lincoln had their penalty. Amos saved the initial effort but it was turned in by the taker Grant after being knocked back in to him in a clear offside position. The only possible explanation for allowing the goal was if the touch to Grant had come from Purrington who had challenged for the second ball. It was tough but no less than we had deserved from the preceding ten minutes.

In the second-half we simply didn't do enough and none of our substitutions managed to raise our game. Pratley dropped back to centre-half after new boy Famewo was taken off on the hour due to tiredness. He managed to concede two more free-kicks in dangerous positions and we were fortunate not have lost the match from one of those. As it was, the coup de grace came just before full-time when Lincoln headed home a soft second goal from a back post cross. 

Sunderland next up. We might have one or two more options by then and we always fancy our chances against the Makems. Phil Parkinson's side don't score many goals so it's likely to be another very close affair. 

Thursday 24 September 2020

Sandgaard Tweets spell trouble ahead...

After the surging confidence in recent weeks that Thomas Sandgaard has the funds, the team and the energy to acquire CAFC and secure the future use of the Valley and Sparrows Lane, two Tweets early today would suggest he has spotted an iceberg on the horizon and it's Duchatelet-shaped.

Sandgaard made it clear from the outset that he wanted full control of Charlton and of the club's dependence on it's stadium and training ground. He also Tweeted at one point that he would settle for a negotiated extension of the current lease deal if the assets were not for sale or otherwise unattainable. 

Something evidently derailed closure of a deal last week and it's widely suspected that it wasn't Elliott winning an injunction hearing. Sandgaard's early-morning Tweets suggest that once again, Roland Duchatelet is proving the stumbling block.

It looks like a sale of the assets isn't likely and I suspect that's still an issue over the price. In which case, we can assume that Duchatelet is playing hardball over a longer lease. The current lease is believed to be a five year term which expires mid-2024-25 season. A term so relatively short would make it inadvisable to invest significantly in the training ground or The Valley, in addition to handing Duchatelet massive negotiating power next time around. It might also hand the Belgian a ready-made-excuse to possibly fail to extend and thus bring to a head Charlton's tenure and perhaps begin his case for change of use. We know that Greenwich Council are unlikely to support this as things stand, particularly at Sparrows Lane, but the Valley without Charlton playing there would be a different proposition after a year or two of dereliction. There are arguments that the site isn't viable for development for numerous reasons and that may well be the case but it cuts no ice if Duchatelet believes otherwise. 

Sandgaard's second Tweet also confirms that he has players waiting to sign for the club but that failure to sign them would ruin this season's chances of competing in League One. His wording is a little ambiguous but could be interpreted that without accommodation here by Duchatelet, all bets could be off.

Paul Elliott's court wrangling with Panorama Magic have brought the club to a perilous position and without Sandgaard's backing, Administration looks not only inevitable but also quite quick. As I have said before, Administration is not what anyone wants but it may be the only way to wipe the slate clean and give a new owner a fresh chance without Duchatelet's interference. It would be a risky venture but it would break the deadlock of the last four years.

Saturday 19 September 2020

Charlton Athletic 1 v Doncaster Rovers 3

First home game of the season and 1,000 fans, including Thomas Sandgaard, were let in to see it in late Summer sunshine. The streets around SE7 were eerily quiet and with only the North and West Lower Stands open, fans entered from Valley Grove (West) or Harvey Gardens (North).

The rest of us had to make do with struggling to follow the game on Valley Pass. Last week we had an electronic hammering sound for half this match and this week no commentary. 

A now familiar Charlton eleven started with Amos in goal, Barker, Oshilaja, Pratley and Purrington once again forming the defence. Albie Morgan got a rare start alongside Forster-Caskey, Doughty and Gilbey in the middle with Bonne and Washington upfront.

Charlton had a bright opening 25 minutes and should have taken the lead. Bonne headed onto the roof of the net before Washington charged in on goal and forced a shot just wide of the far post with Alex Gilbey who was sliding in, inches away. Gilbey himself also had a fine effort tipped away at the base of the post as Charlton  pressed for the opener. 

However, on 25 minutes Doncaster struck. Having committed men forward and getting getting into a good position, Charlton won the ball back deep in defence and should have cleared their lines. Darren Pratley instead decided to play the ball out but his pass across his box went straight to a black shirt and Rovers sensed blood. Two touches later and Gomes strode onto a pass and forced a low shot beyond Amos into a huge gap to the left of the Charlton goal. 

After that, Doncaster had their tails up and more of the play switched to the Charlton half. It took a low diving save from Amos to keep out a second Doncaster goal. His save went some way to atoning for his positioning for the first.

Charlton hopes of drawing level ended minutes after the restart when the unfortunate Chris Barker could only slice a ball into his own net as he tried to clear. Doncaster looked home and dry and despite a concerted effort to get back into the game. Charlton struggled to create anything significant. Washington worked his way into goal on 62 minutes but Bursik blocked his near post shot. Doncaster then put the result beyond doubt when John-Jules skipped past a lame tackle in the box before smashing the third.

The distraught Barker was shortly withdrawn as Jonny Williams came on to try and turn the tide. He had been clattered by James who was booked for it. Conor Washington headed home a consolation goal on 67 minutes from a corner after Doncaster failed to clear and the ball was headed back and forth across goal before the Ulsterman reached it. We continued to attack and made some promising moves but nothing fell for us.

It was a spirited display by Lee Bowyer's men but the difference between the sides was Charlton's poor defence. Darren Pratley has made a name for himself at The Valley by coming on with twenty to go and shoring things up or urging the side forward. However, he is no longer a 90 minute player and that's what we are asking from him. Osilaja wasn't a first choice last season and still has a lot to learn and Chris Barker is only 17. Lincoln away next week suddenly looks a lot tougher.

The need for strengthening of the first team was cruelly exposed this afternoon and Paul Elliott needs to be held accountable for his selfish court action that is currently preventing it - "make Charlton great again," my arse.

Elsewhere, a group of protesting Charlton fans took action at a local Screwfix store by picketing in protest at Screwfix's sponsorship of the EFL whose inaction over Elliott's Owners & Directors Test may be helping his ongoing legal action. The store closed it's doors after awhile and the EFL will be squirming. 

Friday 18 September 2020

Stick with Thomas Sandgaard

It's the morning after and Charlton supporters are waking up and assessing the damage from last night. It's clear that there are a lot of unhappy souls out there. Disappointment, uncertainty, frustration and some anger. A lot of finger-pointing and general abuse isn't helping the situation either.

Some people are, understandably, critical of Thomas Sandgaard. His confidence that he could get a deal done this week has proven to be misplaced and the widespread and well-supported rumour that Duchatalet's agreement with ESI had a clause which meant the club had effectively reverted to him in light of ESI's failure to adhere to clear clauses like payment of rent and onward sale of the club has also proven not to be the case.

Sandgaard's initial response on Twitter was a disappointment. With the fans looking for him to pull out a loaded double-barrel shotgun, he whipped out a catapult and asked us to change our Twitter icons to the Club crest to show solidarity. He did go on later to re-affrim his even greater determination to get control of the club and displayed some clear anger of his own by saying he would not do a deal with Elliott under any circumstances because it would involve a lack of integrity.

It looks very much like we are going to have to suck it up until after Elliott's hearing on 23rd November. The EFL are sitting on their haunches and will do nothing until Elliott either agrees a lawyer for his appeal hearing into his failure to pass the O&DT or is awarded control of the club by the Court of Appeal. Elliott's Counsel's view yesterday that he is worth £12m won't have impressed the EFL who, in spite of their very visible shortcomings, will have a damn sight better view of commercial football reality than socially naive and crusty privileged Court of Appeal judges.

In the meantime, Elliott now has to hope that his adversaries (Nimer/Panorama Magic) in this case somehow find a way to keep the club from Administration over the next two months. I think that may be a serious challenge given Nimer/Panorama were willing to let Elliott find the funding for the most recent monthly shortfall. What is their incentive? Especially if they risk losing the club to Elliott in a couple of months time for £1? It will almost certainly involve cashing in on Dylan Phillips as a minimum.

What seems certain, is that ESI in all it's forms will shortly exit the scene and we will be at the mercy once again of the high seas. There are very few noble businessmen out there willing to acquire a League One club that's been on it's arse for a couple of seasons and which has very little assets beyond the playing squad in such uncertain times where there is no real sense of revenue streams returning any time soon. 

I whole-heartedly back Sandgaard's determination not to pay a ransom for the club whoever wins the November Court Case. Both parties have put us in this position and both continue to slug it out with zero interest in the football club or it's supporters. What happened to your desire to "make Charlton great again" Elliott? 

Therefore, I come back to Thomas Sandgaard. This bloke is a noble businessman. He has made his intentions very clear and I reckon he has fallen for the club in a way we all did once upon a time. He will already be in for a fair whack given the involvement of Freshfields and I am sure he knows that the club will bob up for sale at some point and there is every chance by then it will be a distressed sale. We really have to hope Sandgaard is still keen at that time or else there is the risk that another shark will get involved and the merry-go-round will start up again.

Thursday 17 September 2020

The agony continues...

So no glad tidings yesterday as predicted...

Two judges in the Court of Appeal today agreed that Charlton Athletic is an ongoing ownership disaster with a professional football club and 115 years history attached. Ignoring some very obvious questions, they have followed the letter of the law and decided that Paul Elliott's appeal against Taynoon Nimer and Matt Southall's sale of the club should go ahead and will now be heard in November.

What became very clear today was that Panorama Magic have played this poorly and were today trying to bring in evidence and questions which have not previously been brought to light. Judge Lewison summed up saying "Panorama must live with its' decision to remain silent" on aspects of the trial, like explaining the solidity of Thomas Sandgaard's interest. Marian Mihail has been complicit in this in addition to managing to discredit himself which giving contradictory accounts as to ownership of the club. I can only assume this has been deliberate but I am struggling to see how it might benefit Taynoon Nimer and his Romania Directors.

We learnt today that Paul Elliott claims to be worth £12m. Much more than many had given him credit for but even Appeal Court Judges must question what he's doing trying to play Football Monopoly. The fact that he claims to be £500,000 down so far might demonstrate his ownership conviction but you really have to question what's going on here given the ownership liability and his ability to run the club for any length of time without significant additional funding. No-one in their right mind would lend you money on that basis today. The obvious answer is that he's fighting for the right to sell the club and from that perspective alone he has a right to pursue his case. 

As things stand, Charlton Athletic, the League One football club with ongoing ownership issues, faces missing out on it's chance of taking any further advantage of the transfer window which threatens to scupper this season. There is also the prospect that Paul Elliott may not be able to find a satisfactory buyer, in which case Administration could well loom large once again and the future of the club be put in jeopardy.

All of the above ignores the fact that a Danish multi-millionaire has been all over the acquisition of the club like a rash and has told us he is 100% confident of buying the club. In the circumstances, I am expecting a statement from Thomas Sandgaard before it gets dark, informing us of his current position and what this all means for him. He has been confident he could close a deal in short order and has not denied the speculation that a deal is imminent. 

Come on Thomas, lift the spirits here!

Tuesday 15 September 2020

RIP Dr Kish

Very sad news today of the death of stalwart fan Chris Thompson. He had his health challenges but today's news still comes as a shock. Chris was better known as blogger Dr Kish (Frankie Valley before that) and a regular at home and away games. 

His output on all things Charlton Athletic was prodigious and a sign of just how central the club were to his life. His blog records nearly 8m visits to his site since 2008. Chris was always close to the action and had a good idea what was going on inside the club and you could rely on his site for the latest news. 

God bless you Chris.

Tomorrow - a day to remember

The collective Addick temperature is high. Fatigue and anxiety stalks the fanbase, or certainly for many who spend too much time on social media pursuing news of their beloved. The latest wailing and gnashing of teeth was caused by the straightforward news that saviour-elect, Thomas Sandgaard, had returned to Denver on Saturday after a fortnight in the UK. They panicked that Sandgaard had somehow lost interest and thrown the towel in. 

It seems pretty straightforward to me that he has gone back to attend to business. He is the CEO of a multi-national and will have pressing things he needs to be there to deal with. He has extended his London stay twice as I understand it, so no-one should really be surprised. I don't think the prospect of watching Charlton play friendly matches was the incentive, rather events unfolding around his planned acquisition of the club. He has told us repeatedly that he is on top of everything and that he is 100% confident that he will complete the purchase of CAFC. He has also told us that he should be able to announce a takeover by tomorrow and that Bowyer would get new players in the same timeframe. That may have seemed to have been pushing it a bit but a tip-off from a fan today suggests six or seven players will be confirmed tomorrow. What's more, the fan, has form for decent inside knowledge.

So, what to hope for tomorrow. I reckon Sandgaard will be good to his word and that he will be announced as new owner tomorrow. If there are legs in the new player rumour, then it would only be right to assume that the EFL have lifted, or will lift, their transfer embargo so that these can go ahead. Six or Seven would be impossible under the embargo unless a similar mount left the squad. The only logic for lifting the embargo is that Sandgaard has succeeded in taking control to the satisfaction of the EFL and that he has passed the Owners & Directors Test in addition to providing proof and source of funds. He has already Tweeted that he had deposited a year's club running costs in an account here with his legal team, so perhaps that too is a sign that everything is being lined-up for the big day.

If it all happens tomorrow, it will be a massive shot-in-the-arm for the club. It will be the green light for reluctant fans to go ahead and make season ticket purchases to ensure they have their seats in the event that we are allowed back into stadiums, albeit in limited attendances. I suspect we could quickly sellout. 

Lee Bowyer will already be aware of the good news as he will have been working with Steve Gallen to identify the new recruits and negotiations will have been going on for some time. This would have been happening to some extent business-as-usual but it would take the money and authority from someone like Sandgaard to have pressed on with confidence, especially if they have been done for a big reveal tomorrow. That should be a huge boost to the existing squad and create genuine competition for spaces. If there is a goalkeeper amongst them, it could also mean that Dylan Phillips has played his last match for us and may get a 'big money' move away. 

It would also mean that there would be no danger of any congestion on the conference call lines for Thursday's Court of Appeal hearing into who owns East Street Investments. There will also be next to no interest in the outcome either, bar who is going to have to pay for it all. It looks increasingly likely that the costs will fall very squarely on the Directors of ESI which could be a calamity for those involved. What's that saying about playing with fire?

Saturday 12 September 2020

Crewe Alexandra 0 v Charlton Athletic 2

A winning start to our latest League One campaign today at Gresty Road. There will be few complaints given the relative weakness of our squad but there is clearly much improvement needed if we are to be seriously competitive this year.

I found the match hard to follow today. Crewe playing in red shirts and white shorts looked like Charlton and the stand opposite the camera was very reminiscent of the West Stand, with it's red seating and yellow-painted aisles with similar spacings. Crewe were also reminiscent of us at home in recent seasons, particularly when they went forward. 

As expected, Ben Amos played in goal with Purrington, Oshilaja, Pratley and Barker in front of him. Oshilaja seemed to play very centrally and was responsible for much of the heavy-lifting. Pratley appeared to play slightly behind him and was invariably available for a back-pass or in support of Ben Purrington. It was my first sight of young Barker at right-back and he put in an encouraging performance.

Unusally, we started with only three in midfield, Gilbey, Forster-Caskey and George Lapslie. Forster-Caskey saw most possession and was guilty, I thought he over-hitting a number of forward balls butI am not complaining because we managed to hold on in the middle.

The three-man midfield meant the luxury of three front men and Washington, Bonne and Doughty were busy. Doughty's opening goal after 24 minutes was a well taken run in on goal and a drive which gave Jaaskelainen no chance. Conor Washington's debut goal just before half-time put us in the box seat and will have done his confidence a power of good coming after his international goal for Northern Ireland in the week. 

I thought the timing of our goals was critical to the result. Crewe threatened on and off throughout the game but didn't get any breaks. Amos made a few smart saves when needed and the woodwork came to our assistance as well. The two goal cushion allowed us to sit back a bit at times in the second half and contain the game. Crewe's ambition probably deserved a goal and it might have spurred them on had it arrived. They are adjusting to life back in League One and perhaps won't have expected more than they got.

In the end it was job done but we will need to be better than this against the more established sides in this division. I think Lee Bowyer needs two of three better players as well as support in January if we have any hope of bouncing back. There's only one man who is going to provide that as things stand and his name isn't Paul Elliott. This was a home game for the conmen, so it was satisfying that none of them managed to spoil our day by showing their ugly faces.

Tuesday 8 September 2020

They are saying it's all over..

The rollercoaster takeover ride that Charlton fans have been on took a bizarre and completely unexpected turn last. Following the afternoon court decision which granted Paul Elliott an Appeal and prevented the club being sold until that is heard, strong rumours from numerous reliable sources on social media began to circulate in the evening that Thomas Sandgaard had somehow managed to buy the club in spite of the Court ruling. These messages fit with the positivity emanating from Thomas Sandgaard's Twitter account.

There has been no confirmation as yet today but Charlton Life and Twitter have been ablaze with more rumour and speculation that there was provision in Roland Duchatelet's Sales & Purchase Agreement (SPA) with ESI for him to take back ownership of the club in the event that ESI reneged on any of the key terms of it's deal. The word is that this has happened and Duchatelet has now sold directly to Sandgaard.

It sounds too good to believe but we do know that ESI were spotless and arrogant enough to assume they could ride rough-shod over any agreement with Duchatelet and it's been confirmed they did not make the second quarter lease agreement payment of £50,000. Duchatelet was also reported to be "furious" at news in June that ESI had been taken over by Paul Elliott and that he would call in the £50m asset purchase obligation clause that was in the SPA in the event of a sale. That suggests that Duchatelet certainly has motive for acting against ESI.

Speculation is also rife that Freshfields legal team may have unearthed a loophole in  ESI's deal with Duchatelet, but it's hard not to believe Duchatelet and his own legal team were well aware of the deal they had negotiated and were already acting in their client's interests.

If this turns out to be correct, it makes a mockery of the court shenanigans we have had to witness as ESIv1 and ESIv2 have slugged it out for the right to hold the club to ransom to Thomas Sandgaard. It would also, obviously, leave Paul Elliott holding a busted flush of an Appeal and nursing what is hopefully a catastrophic loss. 'Sports Lawyer' and arch mover, Chris Farnell, will also look ridiculous given that he has engineered most of this and one has to hope he will catch his fair share of any fallout. 

There is also the tantalising hope that Sandgaard may have also got a deal on the Valley and Sparrows Lane. That really would be the icing on the cake after what we have been through this year.

In the meantime, however, we have to hold our nerve and wait patiently until we get confirmation as to what's happened, although Thomas Sandgaard and Raelynn Maloney were at The Valley today and even managed to call in at the Rose of Denmark for a drink - not the action of someone whose ambitions to own Charlton Athletic Football Club have been thwarted.

Monday 7 September 2020

Elliott wins right of appeal

When we were told not to worry last week, after Paul Elliott got a seven day injunction for consideration of his right to appeal, you wanted to believe the confidence of those telling us. It was only another week's delay and Thomas Sandgaard still had work to do before being able to complete his purchase. We would still have a couple of weeks in which to replace the players we lost during the close season if we could get the transfer embargo lifted etc..

But as Charlton fans, we should know better. Nothing is ever straightforward at this club. Nothing. So this afternoon, another overpaid Judge decided to grant Elliott an appeal which will be heard in the next fortnight. Irrespective of the outcome, Lee Bowyer can say goodbye to any further squad strengthening. Once again he is going to have to start a season with his hands tied behind his back. 

Meanwhile, Paul Eliott, fights to barge back in front of Thomas Sandgaard (and Andrew Barclay) to take control and, as he told us in his open letter last week, make the club successful again. Yes, the same bloke who has ensured Bowyer can't prepare his side for League One. The same Paul Elliott who was nominally owner as we went down just a few weeks ago. What an impact this bloke has had and he's never actually owned the club. Just imagine what could happen with him properly in charge.

Thomas Sandgaard has tweeted that we should not panic as things will be sorted. All well and good but I am done with this and my personal opinion is now that these scumbags must be stopped from profiting from our club. I don't want Sandgaard or anyone else to pay his ransom. If he were to get control again, I hope all interested parties stand back and let him suffer a few more month's running costs that will surely bankrupt him and his dodgy backers. It would almost definitely mean Administration but things are now at the stage where that is a risk we should be prepared to take. Ensure these conmen get nothing, clear the club of it's debt and break that ridiculous asset clause with Roland Duchatelet.

One added bonus if this were to happen is that Paul Elliott may feel emboldened enough to return to the Valley, where he is now guaranteed a much warmer reception than during the lockdown end to the season. Roland Duchatelet told us he was too fearful to attend home games but that was just his lame excuse. Paul Elliott would be able to use the same excuse with very good justification. You can add all the other chancers to that list now as well.

Thursday 3 September 2020

Stay of execution

Frustrating news late yesterday from the 'consequences' hearing following the decision of Judge Pearce on Tuesday. Paul Elliott's QC argued the case for an Appeal, ironically using the fact that there may well be an imminent takeover of the club. The presence of Thomas Sandgaard (and Andrew Barclay) seemed to have escaped the Judge and Paul Elliott's QC on Tuesday and they had actually been arguing that timing for a trial or subsequent hearing was unlikely to be detrimental to Panorama Magic or the club as there appeared to be no sign of any imminent buyout. I can accept Judge Pearce may not be up on all-things-Charlton but it was surely tactical on the QC's part to play-down the very real interests of Barclay and Sandgaard.

Elliott's QC used evidence of Charlton's celebrating supporters to demonstrate that a buyout was indeed possible in the short term and tried to discredit Lauren Kreamer, Panorama's Barrister by exposing the fact that she was in fact a Charlton supporter, as if that somehow discredited her. Judge Pearce refused the Appeal but he did agree that Elliott should be allowed to go to the Court of Appeal to try and obtain one and therefore granted a temporary injunction until 4pm Wednesday on any possible sale of the club. Whilst disappointing, Elliott is effectively still two down with five minutes to play.

The other thing that struck me yesterday, was the stark comparison between the interested individuals, some recent 'Directors' of the club present at the hearing yesterday, and the ex-Directors of the club's past. On the line was the odious Matt Southall, the couldn't-care-less Paul Elliott, the slippery Chris Farnell, dodgy El Kashy-whatever-his-name is, weirdo Heller and even Chris Farnell's biggest psychophant, 'John Burke' aka Fred Rose. 

Most of these characters have had a material input on the ownership and running of Charlton Athletic this year. They have told lie-after-lie since they crawled onto the scene and, even now, fight desperately amongst themselves to get back on the horse maintaining the thinnest of lies that they have the club's best interests at heart and want to provide long-term stewardship. In reality, they are little more than chancers and wise-guys, out for a fast-buck with no regard for any collateral damage, even if that is with the future or even existence of famous football club that plays such a significant part in British football as well as with it's own community.

Contrast them then with three ex-Directors who felt forced to take legal action to challenge the sale of the club by Roland Duchatelet to ESI. Their case is pretty clear - the interest-free loans they made to Charlton in the past were only payable upon promotion back to the Premier League or in the event of a sale of the club when their repayment would take first priority. They didn't challenge the sale of the club to ESI in December or January for the only reason that they were pleased to see the back of Duchatelet and believed the new owners might be good for the club. No, they only took action when it became glaringly obvious that ESI was an empty suit and that the club's future was being imperilled by the proposed flipping of the club to ESI2. 

These thieves couldn't care less about the Transfer Embargo they brought upon the club. They don't care about Lee Bowyer's challenge to get a side ready for League One kick-off in nine days time. They don't care about dragging this out for as long as possible even if that delays a serious investor from saving they club. All they care about is themselves and their pockets.

If you want any other proof, you can see these ex-Directors ordinarily at every home game and some aways. We have already lost sight of Nimer and we won't see Southall, Farnell, Elliott, El Kashy, Heller etc at the Valley ever again. Not just because they would be endangering their health but because they have zero interest in Charlton Athletic Football Club. They simply want to profit from the club in the short-term and then move on at the expense of a serious investor or leave the club in huge financial trouble. The EFL and the government have to act now in order to prevent unqualified, inadequate and inappropriate individuals from being able to operate in the way they have here and at numerous other clubs.

Tuesday 1 September 2020

Yes! Sandgaard free to complete purchase of Charlton Athletic!

A dramatic afternoon in the Manchester Court this afternoon for the injunction hearing of Paul Elliott v Panorama Magic. The courtroom drama was played out on Zoom and was initially delayed as desperate Charlton fans blocked the lines preventing Paul Elliott and other key parties from joining the call.

Elliott's desire for an injunction hearing was largely based upon who could prove ownership of ESI. Elliott's QC managed to expose Marian Mihail's evidence under cross-examination when it became clear that Mihail had confirmed a sale to Elliott back in July. Panorama's lawyer, Lauren Kreamer, later countered this by reminding the judge that he had already ruled in the Matt Southall appeal that Panorama Magic owned the club at that time.

The other key consideration appeared to be the level of risk involved to either party by delaying a verdict until it could be tried in more detail or indeed heard at an injunction appeal. In the end, Judge Pearce decided to allow a trial but, crucially, not to grant an injunction. This means that Elliott may fight on to win damages from ESI but he cannot stop the sale of the club to Thomas Sandgaard. Elliott may also now risk losing the case and having hefty damages awarded against him as well as being unable to recoup the money he claims to have invested in the club during the last few months. It will be fine entertainment for Charlton fans to watch Farnell and Elliott slug it out with Nimer and Southall, safe in the knowledge that it will no longer be at Charlton Athletic's expense and that the losers can only lose further.

It's a huge deal for Charlton Athletic and you have to believe a deal to sell the club to Thomas Sandgaard will be announced shortly. It was surprising that Sandgaard's name wasn't mentioned during the hearing and the judge was left to question if there was any risk of Charlton missing a prospective buyer as none was known to be waiting in the wings....

In any event, the decision has been made and I hope a deal is announced quickly before what might be an inevitable appeal from the desperate Elliot/Farnell.

Elliott/Farnell may also decide to drop their case now that they cannot leverage a pay-off from Sandgaard, but who cares. It's just great to see that, finally, these chancers have been stopped in their tracks. Taynoon Nimer was nowhere to be seen and the hapless Marian Mihail was left to represent Panorama Magic with support from Charlton fan and legal counsel, Lauren Kreamer. 

One step at a time and all that, but there is also the tantalising hope that Thomas Sandgaard may have been able to unlock Duchatelet's hold over the Valley and Sparrows Lane, or at least have negotiated a much more secure lease arrangement. 

Tomorrow could be another great day.

Is today the day?

That's the question all Charlton Athletic fans are asking themselves today. At a court in Manchester later this afternoon, Mancunian Estate Agent, mate and near neighbour of "sports lawyer" Chris Farnell gets his hearing to consider an injunction to maintain his purchase of East Street Investments and by extension, Charlton Athletic Football Club.

The common understanding is that the sweet deal to sell ESI on to Elliott and his 'consortium' may have only been for a token fee but that it was subject to Eliott passing the Owners and Directors Test, which he has failed. Elliott has appealed his failure and we wonder whether his hope of having the decision reversed is his only grounds for an injunction, or whether, indeed, there is a stronger supporting clause in the Sales and Purchase Agreement he signed to acquire the club. That may become clearer later today.

Elliott's motivation has never been clear but it is nigh on impossible to imagine from what we know of him that he has any serious intention, let alone the money, to run a professional football club, certainly in these extraordinary Coronavirus times when ownership implies such relatively large losses and uncertainty going forward. There is also a strong view that the sale was driven by Farnell in a carve-up with shareholding controller Taynoon Nimer in order to sell the club on cheaply on the face of it in order to cut Matt Southall out of a larger pay-off. Whether that's the real logic to this remains to be proven but it's very clear that Farnell and Nimer both have axes to grind where the avaricious and reprehensible Southall is concerned. 

If Elliott's case hangs on a successful appeal of the O&DT alone, then you have to believe he will fail given how long the EFL deliberated over a decision and in light of their longer-running and ongoing Misconduct Investigation into the sale of CAFC to ESI in January and subsequently of Elliott's would-be takeover. It may also prove to be the case that Elliott and Farnell's desire to hold on to the heavy loss-making football club at this time is because there appear to be wealthy buyers at hand willing to acquire the club at a considerable profit to the pair. The injunction has delayed and frustrated Thomas Sandgaard's determined bid and there is even a rumour that Elliott may have turned down a chunky payment to stand aside. 

If Elliott were to win his case today, my assumption is that it will only delay the sale of Charlton Athletic and give Elliott and Farnell leverage in terms of the final price. If for any reason the would-be buyers are unwilling to buy from Elliott, and that must remain a risk, then the club could be at larger risk of entering Administration and possibly worse. There is also a good argument for allowing the club to enter Administration, if it could then be bought from the Administrator at a pittance and without the attendant ESI-negotiated clauses and obligations when they bought from Duchatelet. In particular that ludicrous £50m option for the Valley and Sparrows Lane.

The problem, of course, is that the ESI-caused Transfer Embargo remains and all of this has ruined Lee Bowyer and Steve Gallen preparation for life back in League One which starts in less than two weeks time. 

Like many I am sure, today could be huge for me personally. I desperately want to see Elliott's application for an injunction thrown out so that Thomas Sandgaard gets his chance to buy the club and put it once again back on a solid footing. If Elliott were to succeed it may well lead to months of further ongoing uncertainty, a continuing impediment to the club's playing chances in League One and potentially to yet another sale to unworthy and/or unscrupulous owners whose main aim is to profit from the club before leaving it in an even worse state. 

You have to believe that good will out finally and tonight we can celebrate, or at least anticipate, the sale of the club to Sandgaard. He has had Freshfields lawyers all over this for a month now and having flown over from the States you have to believe it wasn't just to watch the side play Palace in a friendly or to be here to witness Elliott win his right to an injunction. 

We have had six years of this shit and it cannot go on.