Friday 30 December 2022

Oxford United 3 v Charlton Athletic 1

"Not gonna bother summarising beyond this: We are shite. Pathetic first half. Baffling changes to the starting eleven by the new manager, whatshisname, who praised the depth and quality of his squad in his pre-match interview. Hoof ball is in. Organised defending is not on the menu. Second half was a bit better, after a few changes, including Leaburn replacing Stockley. Wasn’t enough." - Lookout's post-match summary on Charlton Life.

Personally I am not blaming whatisname. Holden is only two matches in and we all already know that this squad of players isn't good enough. Individually, there is enough talent to hack it in this division but what we are seeing week-in, week-out, whatever eleven gets picked is repeated basic mistakes, a lack of collective effort, zero leadership on the field and there are several per game who are simply unprofessional (will we see Ryan Inniss called up to explain some of his reckless behaviour once again towards the end of the match?). When you get paid to play football, the margins are small and our margins are far too large. Two points from the last 24 and our trajectory is bottom four.

Holden tried to go with youth last night, partly foisted on him by circumstances but he went all guns misfiring with Ness, Henry, Chin and Kanu thrown in alongside Tyrrell Thomas who was selected for a guest appearance. Within 25 minutes we were two-down and all over the shop. Lesson learnt but the permutations from here are familiar and haven't been working.

What we need is a clearout, some much better players and a few leaders to grab this team by the scruff of their necks and put in some battling performances to grind out some results. The trouble is, we are mid-season, most players are contracted and our options will be limited. Some will accept loan moves and others will be happy to leave the sinking ship if they get offers elsewhere. There will be very little money, if any, unless we raise it via player sales. Selling Miles Leaburn (currently the only asset that might bring in a £1m+) would leave us even further depleted. As I have said, it looks very much like Forster-Caskey is on his way and if we can offload anyone else, I expect us to do it to free up wages for changes. 

As recently as 24th December I wrote about the "hope at Christmas." It was clear that Sandgaard had finally thrown the towel in. The appointments of Scott, Rodwell, Warrick and Holden were clearly not his. The linkage supporters quickly discovered between Warrick and Methven rubber-stamped that and explained, if anyone was in any doubt, the rationale for his recent appearances at home games. Methven was there again last night - he is an Oxford fan but I am sure he was revelling in his soon to be announced new position. 

Yesterday's revelations from Rick Everitt that Methven has signed an exclusivity deal on behalf of his would-be backers for due diligence and that there was evidence to support a business plan by the American backers that was limited, under-funded and therefore likely to be very short-term was a distress signal.

Fans will believe what they want to, but I am certain that Charlie Methven has accepted the role of would-be CEO and the face of what will be largely an anonymous America investment house, who will leave the running of the club to him and his appointed cronies. He has already registered a shell company, 'SE7 Partners,' with Ed Warrick, the 'Finance Director' supposedly appointed by Sandgaard.

That 'due diligence' will involve seeking EFL approval - unlikely to be withheld from an overseas investment company with no previous footballing history and appointees who all have bona fide football experience in the UK, however, unconvincing much of that may be. It will also give them time to put their remaining funding in place to pay Sandgaard off and be able to demonstrate to the EFL that they have the minimum operating cashflow.

The figures being bandied about in the US say they are seeking to raise £11m (which would include operating cashflow needed to convince the EFL, in addition to Sandgaard's pay-off).

If this proves to be the case and they manage to close the deal out, it is really hard to see that this will be anything other than a short-term investment designed to slash the club's cost-base and sell any assets to radically improve the numbers, even at the cost of the size of the club or what happens on the football pitch. Investment houses have zero interest in football, communities or people. They are driven by one thing - the bottom line. There is no emotion, no empathy, just numbers driven decisions. 

It has to be short term because they simply won't have the money to run the club for more than a year and even then that will require selling whoever they can to increase their ability to manoeuvre. The cost-cutting would also need to be on a scale we haven't yet seen. It would involve radical changes to the way the club runs and what happens on matchdays. Supporters will react badly to the scale of changes they would need to implement but it will be sold to us as medicine we need to take to turn the club around. And then they will be gone if they can find another buying willing to pay them a premium for reducing the clubs losses and turning us into a League One minnow. Assuming of course they steady the ship and avoid the relegation we are currently heading for. Be clear too, that won't phase them unduly either. They aren't Charlton fans. None of them. Relegation would only allow them to reduce costs even further, more quickly. They would be able to blame Sandgaard (not unfairly) and it would help them justify their other actions. 

It may not come to pass, of course, but the evidence is all there that it will - Sandgaard has sanctioned the short-term contracts of the new management team he has never wanted and Methven is poised. My cynical guess is that they can also wait most of January out before declaring their hand and blaming timescales for a lack of any incremental (let alone ambitious) January expenditure. So, expect a shuffling of the cards once again and more players without the demonstrable track record of offering any significant footballing improvement.

I will be the first to rejoice if Methven reveals a big backer who fronts up publicly with ambition, or indeed, if his group are trumped at the end, but I can't see it. If someone with deep pockets was ready, they might baulk at the pay-off to the loser Sandgaard but it wouldn't be a deal breaker if they had grander plans to bring the Valley and Sparrows Lane back into the fold and really invest in the football club on a mid to long term basis.

Just how fucking depressing is it being a Charlton Athletic fan?


  1. It has alway been my belief since Duchatalet arrived that CAFC are seen by successive owners and potentials, as a first class property deal opportunity
    Football does not figure in any of their business plans. Yes, the naive may proffer the ‘protected community asset’ status of The Valley as our bulwark against demolition. But five years of a rotting, derelict eyesore would soon test the resolve of LB Greenwich in the face of some nicely produced plans of a residential scheme for 1000+ units
    I do subscribe to the Roland/Thomas collaboration theory, especially given the potential riches on offer.
    The remnants of the football club, at best playing in L2, at worst the National League, would be left scraping an existence, either playing at some token stadium, built on the cheap in some dark corner of LBG as a sop to releasing the restriction on The Valley, or ground sharing with the likes of Welling Utd or AFC Wimbledon.
    You may see this as some figment of my Dickensian ‘Christmas Future’ But who would have predicted the actual nightmare of ‘ Christmas Present’?
    Nothing I’ve seen on the pitch, or heard about off it, would make me consider that the above is an impossible view into the future, starting 1st January 2023

  2. As I said on a previous post, this seems similar...but somehow worse...than previous relegations.

    I was talking to a bloke I've known for many years (John Webb) that lives in our village and I was speaking to him in our pub on Christmas Day, he's a Wolves season ticket holder and attends matches with his best friend who was on the board of directors at Wolves and who's company (Chaucer Investments) were also shirt sponsors, he also owned Margate Football Club for a few years. John sits in the Directors box at Molineux and is well versed on the running of a football club. Due to our association, he keeps an eye on all things Charlton and we spoke about the new appointments, his take on it was exactly what's now been put into the public domain by Rick Everitt and echoes practically all your thoughts on this post.

    I just can't see anybody willing to purchase us who would have serious intent and the financial capability, we are a sorry mess.

    We've all been worried about CAFC in previous times but I truly fear that our club could be lost forever.


  3. I think that really is me done. Good day sir!

  4. Oxford last night was rubbish and is the continuation of an eventual death of this club. United away, a brief distraction and ultimately a hammering will then return focuses to concentrating on the league - except it’ll be concentrating with the same bunch as now or depleted further still - there’s a reason youngsters are being blooded and it’s not to raise their stock it’s to act as the sticking plaster to outgoings.

    I’d be surprised if we remain in this league - all efforts and commitment on the playing side suggests we’ve given up as we once did in the prem once 40pts loomed - I guess the players now like them are already planning their summer holidays

  5. Yes that about sums it up. It never felt to me like we would go down last season, but it certainly seems on the cards now. I actually think the squad should be good enough (at least to hold its own in L1), but negativity is just flowing through the whole organisation and must have reached the squad. How can we expect any better players to want to join us in January given our league position without huge wages for L1? And surely that won't happen.

    I suppose some are hoping for PV to turn up on a white horse with some rich backer (Barclay or whoever), but I've no idea what he's playing at either.



Go on, you know you want to....