Tuesday 1 September 2020

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. 


  1. Dave, yes a good analysis of the situation and probably most people's view of Paul Elliot's position.

  2. Fingers crossed,toes crossed even eyes crossed that we regain our self respect through Mr Sandgaard. We've had more than our fair share of unscrupulous 'owners'. Let's get back to the on the pitch matters.


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