Monday 30 January 2023


Paul May ('Reams' on his Into the Valley forum) posted a bizarre message yesterday under the title "urgent plea to all Charlton fans." He says he was given the detail from a Charlton fan/businessman with connections at the club who is desperate to get the word out and put pressure on Thomas Sandgaard to complete his deal with the group who currently have exclusivity. I think I can guess who this has come from and from where he got it (Charlie Methven) - Sherlock Holmes not needed.

The first claim is that Sandgaard has upped his claim from retaining 20% of the club from 18% and that three American billionaires who are ready to spend £53m acquiring the club and it's assets (Valley and SL) are refusing to complete the deal until Sandgaard relents. 

I am pretty sure Sandgaard's ongoing interest in the club has always been mentioned as 20%, not 18%, so this doesn't seem right. The facts are that the takoever group, or at least the initial group, were an American investment house who were trying to raise £11m to fund their plan. That was based on an 80%  acquisition plan that allowed TS 20%. I have seen the paperwork and am very confident of this.

On that basis, it would seem more likely that the takeover group are trying to trim a couple of points off TS's agreed stake. This cannot amount to much in material terms - maybe as simple as 2% of the planned purchase price of £7m eg £140,000. So, three billionaire backers who are threatening to pull out over this? Doesn't stack-up. One billionaire backer would be hard to believe but three is make-believe, especially when the original plan was to raise £11m in total which involved offering relatively small stakes to individuals with share portfolios.

It seems far more likely that the Methven-pitch is failing and it's a shoddy attempt to sow some seeds of disgruntlement and a ready-made excuse if they lose their exclusivity this week and can't close the deal.

As for the rest of what Reams has posted, well it seems unnecesary to the main point and a tad desperate. The whole Chuks piece is hugely inappropriate to be exposed on social media, even if there is any truth in it.

I can't understand why TS would owe Duchatelet a £17m payment? It has certainly never been mentioned before. We know the 'club' was worth next to nothing when Sandgaard bought it and the fact that the figure he paid (including anything to Southall and the Fake Sheikh) was single figure millions was hard to contemplate on it's own.

Duchatelet was holding onto the assets and Sandgaard negotiated a 15 year lease extention in exchange for upping the annual rental from £150k to £500k. So why would he agree a £17m payment on top? It's never shown as a liability in the club accounts and even if it was as a side deal, what would it be for? 

As for players being lined-up this month but not brought in because of this? You have to laugh don't you. If that wasn't desperate enough and massively transparent, they want us to know that Martin Sandgaard (the pantomime villain) has a bigger office at the training ground than Dean Holden Holden (the pantomime hero). "The fans will go mad when they hear this."

I fully expect Sandgaard to weigh-in on this at an appropriate time. He will be keen to justify the size of his son's office! The next couple of days should be entertaining.

Saturday 28 January 2023

Charlton Athletic 1 v Bolton Wanderers 2

Another defeat live on Sky. Our first league defeat of 2023 and our first under Dean Holden. No complaints though, we were outclassed today and 1-2 flattered us. 

I thought Bolton were the best side to visit the Valley this season. They were at it from the off. Ricardo Santos dominated the defence, Shola Shoretire ran the midfield and Dion Charles looked deadly upfront. This was a club that brought in Jerome Cameron and Victor Adeyboyejo yesterday.

They took the lead with their first free-kick, a 35 yarder which rattled in off the top of Maynard-Brewer's right-hand post after only three minutes. It was a cruel blow - Maynard-Brewer was inches away but the strike from Morley was perfection. After that, they could have been three-up by half-time but desperate defending and a large slice of luck limited their lead. All we managed was a weak header from Rak-Sakyi after a decent move and long range shot from the same player which Trafford gathered comfortably.

After the break we struck early with a finely worked goal which Albie Morgan finished with a shot across Trafford. We had momentum for ten minutes or maybe a bit more and Rak-Sakyi had a glorious chance at the near post to give us an undeserved lead. His swipe flew across the goal and evaded the far post and our hopes seemed to go with it too. Bolton continued to come forward and carved us open at times but we held on. Their winner came courtesy of another Inniss heading howler. Getting up to a high ball I think he was in trouble and didn't know whether to head east, west, north or south. He opted for east and it fell to a Bolton player in acres of space who just had to touch in on to Dion Charles to stroke home into an unguarded net as Maynard-Brewer was on the ground after scrambling to support Inniss. 

We lost momentum after that and none of the substitutions worked. Bolton could have scored again before the end but we continued to ride our luck. There was a decent crowd to see this one and that reflects well on the improvement under Dean Holden. I suspect Thomas Sandgaard will be watching and wondering, if only....

Next week must surely bring us some news on the tortured takeover. From what I have seen, I hope it fails. Back to Sandgaard won't be great but this takeover group's plan was disastrous for us. If they succeed, expect some very economical language from Charlie Boy. 

Great to have a beer after the game with my old mucker, Paul Hamley. Charlton mates for forty years.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

D-Day approaches..

We are approaching decision time at CAFC. The takeover group given a period of exclusivity last month are approaching their D-Day. Rumour has it they have put their case before the EFL and are awaiting response on their suitability as new owners and Directors of Charlton Athletic Football Club. That period of exclusivity will be finite and logic tells you it's 31st January or thereabouts. 

It's pretty obvious that Methven and Co have been running things since Sandgaard stepped away before Christmas. It's them who have been representing the club in the Director's Boxes at every match and why manager Dean Holden was so reluctant to reveal who had recruited him when talking to fans at the Bromley Supporters Branch meeting. On that basis they have been making the January transfer window decisions and, understandably I guess, these have been relatively limited as per Mystic Meg's New Year Predictions.

News that Conor McGrandles has been loaned to relegation-threatened Cambridge United yesterday was entirely predictable. His move balances the three short-term loans that Cowboy Co have authorised so far this window. All done within existing headcount and wage bill. For measure, I will add that it looks like good business - three key positions addressed and three lesser players moved on, albeit largely short-term and, for now at least, temporary. When has Sandgaard managed that in a window? Never. 

So, where are we with the takeover? Well the short answer is no-one knows for sure. However, it's not been announced thus far. The 'fit and proper persons test' in relation to the proposed new Directors should be a formality. Methven, Scott and Rodwell have honourable track records in the game and Lenegan's old man used to be the Chairman of the EFL. The $64m question will be, can they provide proof of funds and satisfy the EFL that they have a workable plan to run the club for at least an initial period of 12 months or more without risking financial failure and yet more embarrassment for the EFL? This looks like their biggest hurdle given the plan to raise only £11m to acquire the club and only £4m of that sum as operating budget (Mystic Meg has seen the paperwork, so this has a basis more in fact than prediction).

As we all know, £4m runs out in c 8 months at a burn rate of £500,000 a month. As predicted previously, their fire-sale plan may reduce the monthly losses by perhaps half during the close season, but that still leaves them short. They won't be telling the EFL that their backers plan to flip the club before they run out of cash, so they must have a Plan B. The most obvious explanation would be that they have a second or ongoing fund-raising investment round planned or that they anticipate incoming funds from player sales. Now is the time for player sales and I suspect a deadline-day deal would suit them perfectly. It would enable them to spin it as a deal they couldn't stop and coming so late in the window would also offer an excuse for a failure to reinvest some of the cash in a replacement. 

The only fly in the ointment here, of course, is Thomas Sandgaard, who would also need to be onside financially, given he is still the official owner. This could, of course, have already been factored in to his £7m selling price. That would make sense and it might also explain what Andy Scott's transfer-window contract was all about. A transfer deadline day bonanza might also help convince the EFL that this takeover passes muster. If not, then the takeover looks like failing. Methven, Scott, Rodwell and Warrick all leave as their contracts expire and Sandgaard is left holding the baby again. At least he is left with an improvement as manager and possibly a slightly stronger squad, albeit that the new boys will all be free to leave come May, but that is also not bad news for Sandgaard as he continues his quest to cut his losses and get out of the club. 

Hold on as it could get bumpy.

Sunday 22 January 2023

In for a Penney

After the shambolic disappointment of yesterday's late postponement at Peterborough United, Charlton signed a much needed left-back which suggest to me that this laboured takeover by the American investment house still has legs.

Postponement first - someone at Peterborough messed-up really badly yesterday. It looks like they took a chance on the game going ahead in order to maximise ticket sales and failed to mention a late pitch inspection until, well until it was too late. Having told Charlton on Friday that the match would go ahead because of covers and heaters, they were tripped-up by part of the pitch caught in the shadow of the main stand which remained frozen. The final inspection at 1.30pm appears to have erong-footed the whole Charlton delegation and with 1700-odd fans already in Peterborough or very close, it was a real kick in the teeth.

Boro boss, Darragh MacAnthony, was clearly embarrassed and said he would 'sort it' for travelling supporters. To be fair, he has since announced free coaches and free match tickets to the rescheduled match for all those who made the fruitless trip yesterday. 

Then news late yesterday that we have finally signed a left-footed attacking wing-back. Twenty-four year old Matt Penney joins on another short-term loan from Ipswich until the end of the season. Credit to whomever has pushed for this, although I suspect it signals that the American investment house takeover is still on. Penney's wages will likely mean a hit to the bottom-line, so I fully expect us to cut someone else from the wage bill, if not sell a player. The end of January and the transfer window looms, so I expect an announcement re ownership in the next ten days. 

As if to add to our woes, Barnsley made short work of Accrington Stanley yesterday to put nine points and eight places between us. Play-offs at this stage is unrealistic but it would still be good to get a top-ten finish and renewed hope for next season. Everything will depend on what money is available in the Summer and if we can retain the better players in this squad. As I have said previously, if this American investment group gets the club, the published plans will threaten our future once again. 

Saturday 14 January 2023

Charlton Athletic 2 v Barnsley 0

A battling Charlton win against play-off contenders Barnsley has consolidated Dean Holden's fine start as manager and increased the feel-good factor in SE7.

Make no mistake, Barnsley played some really good passing football and looked like scoring until Rak-Sakyi shut the door on the hour. The Charlton defence was stretched at times but they fought wilfully to keep their opponents out. A warm-up injury to Steve Sessegnon, saw a late Charlton reshuffle as debutant Todd Kane switched to left back and Sean Clare went back in on the right. 

Kane was trying desperately hard to make an impression and he was guilty of a couple of errors but overall he looked promising and was particularly assured in the air. Sadly for him, he limped off before half-time as Charlton brought on O'Connell and went to a back three - hopefully nothing serious.

By then though, Charlton were one-up after Tyreece Campbell ran onto a Payne through ball and held his man off long enough to beat Collins with a low shot at his near post for his first Charlton goal. Barnsley managed to hit the bar twice in the first half and Innis and Ness worked over-time to keep them out. 

Into the second-half and Barnsley continued to press but we looked better with O'Connell (on for Kane) in a back three. I think Holden could see the writing on the wall and made two early substitutions by bringing Henry and Bonne on for the tiring Payne an Leaburn. The switch worked because Bonne immediately threatened and it was his effort that rebounded off a post for Rak-Sakyi to knock in. We looked better after that and could have had a third. 

Aaron Henry floated a great free-kick over the back-line and it was Inniss who got to it first with a diving header from six yards out but it went straight at Collins and he managed to block. Inniss, Clare and Bonne were all carded towards the end as we fought to prevent Barnsley from getting back into the match.

The gate looked much healthier than of late and the Covered End was in louder voice. Three league wins on the spin matches our best sequence of the season and the prospect of relegation looks vanquished. Holden has got the players playing and tactically he looks far better than we have seen since Bowyer. He clearly also spends time understanding what the fans are saying. His explanation of the Bonne signing was word perfect. He acknowledged the social media contra-temps when Bonne initially left for QPR (his "head was turned") as well as his ill-advised trolling of the club/supporters after his August move fell through. I really think that satisfied many supporters and it was interesting that there was an early chant today of "Macauley Bonne, Bonne-Bonne." His role in the second goal helped prove Holden's point, that he could do a job for us in this division and backed Bonne's own insistence that he would prove himself to the supporters.

Personally, I wouldn't have brought him back but with no money to spend and the fact that he's only on a short-term contract, he probably was better than we would could have managed elsewhere (think Doo-doo, Parker or Bogle).

As the month wears on, the chance of Methven's consortium finding the funds and meeting the requirement of their proposed takeover from Sandgaard looks increasingly less likely (fingers-crossed), which would be a blessing in disguise. We have to hope that their failure would open the door for someone with much stronger backing, real credibility and a longer term plan. Perhaps even a deal to finally get rid of Duchatelet as well as Sandgaard.

We just need to hope that there are no offers for any of our better players before the window shuts as I am pretty certain anything would be accepted by a desperate Thomas Sandgaard. The trouble is, the market will know he is in trouble and might see us as an easy touch. 

Thursday 12 January 2023

The Castore Farce

The financial nightmare that Thomas Sandgaard finds himself in, is largely a result of the very clear loss-making position the club was in when he bought us and his failure to provide a winning team and some positive momentum since he took over. It can be no surprise to him that we are still losing £500k a month or that his ability significantly influence those losses is minimal (in a sustainable way).

He has failed to create any real growth around the club in two and half years and the lack of squad investment in the Summer has seen some really poor football this season, some appalling losses and a chronic lack of interest amongst the supporter base. He has also failed to employ anyone in senior positions who has had enough of a clue about us as a club to change that. I have forgotten half the names of the come-and-go people he has brought in but Wayne Mumford's name stands out at the moment given the increasingly ludicrous deal he signed us up to with Castore. There was much fanfare at the time about "one of the most valuable commercial partnerships in Charlton's recent history." That line, however, is about as misleading as Carlsberg being "probably the best beer in the world." Tom Beahan, co-founder of Castore said at the time that they were "thrilled to welcome Charlton FC to the Castore team." It hasn't looked like it since Tom.

What we have seen from Castore since then has been diabolical and the relationship between the club and "it's retail partner" is now so bad, that it's practically open warfare. The prospect of this continuing for years - "it's a multi-year partnership" - is depressing and we need to get out of it or force Castore to give up.

Supply of replica kits will be their main earner from us but they were predictably late in bringing them into the Club Shop which wasn't a good start. They blamed supply chain issues etc but was clear they had no similar problems at larger clubs they provide the shirts for. We simply didn't prioritise. they have also had very little else to sell and refused to stock obvious red and white bar scarves and the like.

The quality of the merchandise was then questioned with badges falling off (not just at Charlton) and they couldn't, didn't or wouldn't supply the third kit - the one we wore at Old Trafford this week. No explanation or apology from Castore. It's still available though from Kitbag though at far less than they Castore would be charging us.

We then had Castore's disappointing refusal to stock Ian Wallis' "The Valiant 1000, Volume 1" tome when he produced it before Christmas. Despite Ian offering them a very healthy margin, they simply said "no." It was also clear at that point that the Club has no influence whatsoever and that they too were unhappy with Castore. Things then worsened at New Year with Castore refusing to stock the Club Calendar for 2023. They even pinned a pathetic notice to the doors of the club shop telling fan they weren't selling it and they had to go to the Ticket Office for a copy. You would think they would be happy to get fans in the shop but it's clear they don't know how to run a sweet shop.

There is a growing thread on Charlton Life entitled "Club Shop RIP" which covers much of this, but I was amazed to get a Tweet and an email from the Club today advertising Castore's new 'leisure range.'

If you look at it, none of the stuff carries the club badge or the sword logo. I strongly suspect this is because Charlton are refusing to let them use the trade-marked logos any longer because of their lack of co-operation on anything else and their poor performance running what has really been no more than the replica kit shop.

The fact the Club is putting out an advertising email in the first place is also a surprise but, I assume, another clause Mumford agreed in his desperation to sign anything to justify his salary. How embarrassing for the club that it has to advertise non-club merchandise for a kit supplier who we have outsourced the shop to but who refuses to sell non-Castore products point-blank.

Thomas Sandgaard clearly lacks a contract with the necessary club protections and it looks like we are stuck with these cowboys for now. Somewhere in the world, Wayne Mumford's CV boasts about his multi-year, retail partnership with Castore. So, high time we organised a boycott of the Castore Store. If nothing changes, we should boycott the Club's kit next season and force Castore to concentrate on Glasgow Rangers and their other priority customers. We are being mugged-off by these cowboys and need to stand up for the club and for ourselves. #boycottcastore.

January damp squib

Following the excitement of Tuesday, we got the disappointment of Wednesday. The much-rumoured move of Jayden Stockley was precipitated yesterday afternoon with the five month delayed return of Macauley Bonne. Having failed to do an eleventh hour deal in the last transfer window, the all-seeing Charlton recruitment team have returned to take the failed signing off QPR's hands. 

The good news, as I understand it, is that he is only here until the end of the season. Another short-term, minimum cost, throw-of-the-dice. I am pleased that it is only four months as he may have to really shake a leg and not simply take the money. Make no mistake, Bonne's first spell in SE7 yielded 11 goals in a 36 game spell that earned him his "big move to QPR" for a startling £2m. Having been desperate to move on, he was publicly outspoken after the proposed loan in September failed when QPR tried to force us to sign him permanently, when he trolled us on social media. 

I can rise above that but it will be the first thing Charlton fans will recall when he fails to convert a chance or make the run he needed to. For that reason, I think it's a bad move for us. He will nick a few goals and, let's face it, we are desperately short up front so he ticks a box but don't expect fireworks.

The other telling point about our first move since the window opened, is the glaring short-termism and lack of commitment of everything at the club right now. Sandgaard clearly isn't going to spend anything this window and the would-be American takeover cowboys don't have the money yet to complete the deal so it wouldn't be happening under them in any event. Prepare to be underwhelmed this month as we shuffle a few cards. 

Manchester United 3 v Charlton Athletic 0

Recovery, recovery, recovery.  Those were the words of manager Dean Holden after Tuesday evening's battle at Old Trafford and he wasn't wrong was he? The thousands returning home either did so through the night on Tuesday or more leisurely yesterday. Either way, it was exhausting wasn't it?

It may have been the travel or the happy drinking in Manchester but it hit you after the game. Personally, I think it was the level of concentration and focus required for the 90-plus minutes to mentally make every challenge, cover every yard as well as the desire and hope for that final ball to make it through to a white shirt in a position to threaten the United goal. It was an epic effort and we all played our part.

Nothing will surpass my first visit to Old Trafford with Lennie Lawrence and the boys on the first Saturday away game of our return to the First Division in the mid-80's but this came close. The Football League's fixture team knew what they were doing. Charlton Athletic back in the top flight after 30 years was to be marked with a baptism of fire against the most famous club in the world. It was another emotionally exhausting day, albeit a 3pm kick-off which enabled an easier up-there-and-back trip. Another day of making every tackle, saving everything that threatened our goal and urging every move forward. A day when that second-half long ball over the top into space on the right wing was collected by the galloping Mark Stuart who swung in on goal and slotted home the winner. A cathartic release of 30 years of hurt after the dismal 1970's and a day when a 22 year old me finally realised a dream. This time, though, the second-best of seven visits to Old Trafford.

It wasn't to be on Tuesday though. How the game has changed. Every Manchester United player, even the second string, were from all corners of the world. Shining lights in their homelands, multi-million pound arrivals with huge Tik-Toc followings, massive wealth and the potential and desire to become the best players in the world. We didn't really stand a chance and we knew it. 

However, the game still had to be played. They had to beat us and we started on level terms. After a tough first-half and a wonderful strike from Antony, we settled in to the game and our confidence lifted in the second-half as our fans boomed out their support for the League One also-rans. For twenty glorious minutes we played out with purpose and strained every sinew to make a break-through. Chances were few and far between but we rattled them for long enough to have made our mark on the match. 

Erik Ten Haag was gracious after he game and acknowledged our efforts. Dean Holden was clearly lit in his post-match dressing room team-talk and our fans left the stadium as happy as the home crowd. Back at our well-appointed hotel, the Benfica-mad barman greeted us with a drink on the house and said "well, one-nil after 90 minutes and they were worried!" He had listened to the commentary in the bar and could only hear Charlton fans singing throughout the match. It was indeed a team effort.

The journey home yesterday seemed to take twice as long as the trip up there but after a good night's sleep, we are all recovering. I really hope we see the fruits of this game on Saturday against Barnsley and not a quick return to reality of League One. 

Monday 9 January 2023

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Tomorrow morning, 9,000 excited Charlton supporters will begin their journeys to Old Trafford. Our 4th Round League Cup tie has captured the imagination and everyone wants to be there. The fact that it's a night match means most will stay overnight in Manchester, so the adventure is that little bit bigger. 

In spite of the lack of ambition of owner Thomas Sandgaard, the fact that he is actively trying to offload the club to anyone who will take it's losses and that we have a host of new faces running the club, perhaps temporarily, there is a frisson of electricity about this match. It's not just that we are playing the biggest club in British football over the last fifty years but the potential of this game. 

We are 90 minutes away from the first major cup semi-final since we won the F A Cup in 1947. United will start hot favourites, of course, but they will field a second string and we have all just witnessed Newcastle and Aston Villa being dumped out of the competition by League One opposition. There has to be hope. We weren't expected to get past Brighton but we did. There won't be tears if we lose but there almost certainly will be if we win. Just imagine a two-legged semi-final against another Premier league side...

Secondary to the game, this match and the fact that 9,000 Charlton fans are prepared to take two days off work in the hope of something amazing, might just spark something in those looking to acquire a football club. We are the archetypal distressed club, under-performing in the lower leagues. The potential is enormous and we should remind ourselves that it wouldn't take a miracle to get promoted back to the Championship. Just some ambition, a relatively modest investment, patience and a splash of good fortune. 

Whilst our ownership remains a mess, supporters are liking what they are seeing from Dean Holden. He may only have been managing the team for four games but we have seen a marked improvement in performances. He seems to be a really decent bloke and down-to-earth like us (the antithesis of that red-trousered public schoolboy, Charlie Methven). I was hugely impressed that he chose to go to the Royal Oak on his own after the Brighton game to listen to what fans had to say. He is a clear communicator and appears to know exactly what he wants and expects from his players. It's early days but he might just be what we have been looking for since Lee Bowyer upped sticks for Birmingham. 

It feels odd too that Holden is a Manc and a season ticket holder still at Old Trafford. What would the odds be of taking over a club the day after they progressed to the 4th round of a cup competition and drawing the team you support? Him and Anthony Hayes will have a right old day out tomorrow - it might even eclipse some of our own. I would love to see them celebrating a Charlton victory on their own hallowed turf. 

However you are getting there and wherever you spend the night, I hope and pray that we all come back with some brilliant memories. Charlton forever!

Sunday 8 January 2023

Charlton Athletic 2 v Lincoln City 1

Back-to-back wins ahead of Tuesday's day out at Old Trafford. The points edge us into the top half of the table and gives us a welcome cushion against talk of relegation. In truth it was another much improved performance over the 90 minutes and Dean Holden has certainly caught the players attention.

We started very slowly against a Lincoln side who looked determined to open the scoring. There was a worrying casualness about the defence in the opening 15 minutes as we strolled whilst the Imps ran. It took a late block by Inniss to prevent Lincoln taking the lead and after that we woke up.

There was still too much Clare-Inniss-Ness-Sessegnon and back again in front of a high Lincoln line but we eventually broke that up and began to get balls into Dobson, Morgan and Fraser who got us moving upfront. We were creating half-chances before Miles Leaburn got free down our right flank and swung a peach of a cross to the back post where Scott Fraser was running in and dunked a header across Rushworth and into the goal. 

Seven minutes later and Cory Blackett-Taylor, out to ensure his start at Old Trafford, ran on to a through ball down the left from Fraser. He cut in on goal and hammered a left foot shot over Rushworth's head and it was 2-0. After that we really should have sewn it up but we lacked the killer instinct and looked like we were content to keep playing and see what happened. 

After the break we really should have scored that third. Rak-Sakyi beat his man to get one on one with the goalie but his shot was well saved by Rushworth. Blackett-Taylor continued to skate down the left and fire hopeful shots in from distance but we failed to really open then up. Payne came on for Morgan after 70  minutes and Kirk was eventually introduced for Rak-Sakyi although I don't know why as all he did was stray offside and lose possession. We really should have seen the last of him by now.

It was good to see Brendan O'Connell finally get back onto the pitch after a long lay-off, even if it was just for the 7 added minutes. Lincoln managed to find an 89th minute consolation after loading our box and finding a shot to beat McGillivray. We played the time out but Lincoln did get a final chance with a low shot across the goal which squeaked past the far post. A draw would have flattered the visitors.

On to Old Trafford and I note that the club have decided to open the ticket office today (11am-3pm) after all. I suspect the torrential downpour at the end of the game yesterday meant far fewer tickets were collected than anticipated and that we might still have a few thousand to be collected.

After the disappointment of not getting general sale tickets on Wednesday, I was encouraged on Thursday that we weren't going to sellout again quickly. Managed to find a hotel in Manchester and an affordable train journey, albeit via Liverpool, so I will be at the ball after all.

Thursday 5 January 2023


Quite remarkable news yesterday. Not only did we sell-out the 7000-odd tickets that Manchester United allocated us, but we have been given another 2,000 and will, most likely sell-out again on Saturday. Huge pat on the back to our supporters and something that may say more about our club than the lightweight and misleading sales pitch doing it's way around Investment Houses in the US.

I was one of those supremely confident that we would do very well to get 5,000 up there on a midweek game necessitating a stopover for many, so soon after New Year. Not only that but we have been very poor to watch in the last two months (all season really) and are in the throes of a another disastrous looking takeover. But wrong I was - our fans have answered the call, maybe because of the poor football, the lack of hope and the fact that we haven't had a really big match for many years, but whatever the reason, they have done it. 

Personally very disappointed that I won't be there. I had enough points to have applied on Tuesday as one of the lower Loyalty Points members but with news that there were 1600 left I was very hopeful that our plan to buy six together on General Sale day would mean we could all sit together (some of us didn't have enough loyalty points for earlier). Our volunteer took no chances, getting down to the Valley early and making third in the queue. At 2pm when the windows opened there were 60-80 fans queueing behind him. The first fan bought one ticket for himself but fans two and three (him) were told "sorry, sold-out now." That was that, no offer to take names and numbers (for returns) of those who had journeyed to the ground in the belief that would get them tickets. No mention of the possibility of an increased allocation and strong rumours from Manchester that we wouldn't get any more because Burnley didn't and because United had been selling tickets in all other areas.

First time in 45 years I haven't got tickets for a game. My disappointment caused me to cancel my hotel and train, and rely instead on getting a ticket for the two-legged semi-final 😂. At least I will be able to watch the match on TV.

Monday 2 January 2023

Mystic Meg's New Year Predictions

Mystic Meg has some predictions for Charlton fans for 2023.

1. A US-based investment company will announce a successful takeover from Thomas Sandgaard and appoint Charlie Methven to run the club as CEO on it's behalf. They talk of wanting to change the club's fortunes and get out of League One next season.

2. They may decide not to tell us what they have paid for the club but will confirm they haven't acquired the Valley or Sparrows Lane (it's not a major investment).

3. Methven is excited by this new opportunity but tells us the club is in poor financial shape and that we need to take some heavy medicine before we can expect any recovery. This would be code for him having to run the club on a finite and hopelessly small budget.

4. The January window is deemed a disappointment by fans but we have shuffled a number of players in and out within our existing wage budget or spending any money we haven't first raised through player sales. Expect to see Leaburn or Kanu sold. 

5. Methven begins to make changes to make the club "stronger financially." He may wait until the early-bird season ticket is out of the way (they will have £1-2m renewals baked into their plan) but the need to stop some costs before the season finishes will inevitably mean some big changes can't wait. Charlton TV could be the first thing to be axed.

6. The CAFC Women's team to be viewed as a luxury we can't afford unless someone else funds it.

7. Gallen and Sandgaard Junior to be relieved of their positions as the new gang of Methven's Mercenaries will cover that.

8. The Academy to have a huge budget cut - think 50%.

9. Whilst there is a lot of supporter speculation about a ground move to avoid that annoying "£50m purchase clause" of the Valley and Sparrows lane, Mystic Meg says that is unlikely because that's not an issue until 2035 and the plan for Methven and Co is to be out inside 12 months (there is also a break clause in 2025). Ground-sharing will take too much time and effort and would antagonise fans unnecessarily.

10. No significant spending on the squad in the Summer and we open the season with the East Stand and the Upper West closed to save money more.

11. Club then sold on before Christmas for a profit for the investors. 

Happy New Year!


Sunday 1 January 2023

Portsmouth 1 v Charlton Athletic 3

We have to take our comfort where we can find at the moment, so today's win at Portsmouth brought much needed relief for Charlton fans everywhere. How refreshing to start a New Year with a victory and not another morale-sapping result. 

I was returning home from New Year celebrations in deepest Kent this afternoon, so missed all bar the last ten minutes of the match. I can't comment on the game but I am assured we were good value for the points once again at Fratton Park. As Charlton supporters we know all about hoodoos and curses but you have to feel a tad for Pompey who have now been beaten at home by us on seven consecutive occasions. Our record against Millwall is dire, but we haven't suffered a run like this.

The points lift us six clear of the drop zone and move us up to 16th in the table. I am pleased for the diehards who made the trip today, as I am for Dean Holden. It's not his fault he is associated with the group of desperados attempting to hijack control of the club from want-away Sandgaard. I am sure all he wants is to make a success of things until May and hopefully gain a longer contract. Whatever happens in the next four months, we cannot afford to be relegated -  it would be catastrophic. We all need to get behind Holden and hope he can garner enough points to keep us in League One. 

The transfer window is now open and we will soon get a feel for the metal of the would-be owners. For me, it's pretty clear than Sandgaard would not be spending incrementally if he were still in charge and not having planned his exit. Therefore, whilst Charlie Methven has a period of exclusivity to complete a takeover, I think we have to view any player moves this window as being directed and under-written by him and his paymasters. After all, Andy Scott has been recruited on a six week contract to oversee that. I expect it to be deck-chair shuffling as I have said previously, and all done within the existing pay envelope. So expect some exits to make headroom and sales of anyone we can get a fee for. That would be acceptable to Sandgaard as he will benefit financially if the takeover doesn't go through and I don't believe Methven's group will have the funding for strengthening the team - that's not the game-plan for this takeover. 

No surprise to see Simon Lenahan appear at Oxford on Thursday or again today at Portsmouth. His role will become clear, I am sure, if and when Methven appears at a press conference to tell us he is the new CEO and to confirm who the owners of the club are. There must have been a spare place in the Range Rover, as Stewart Donald was also with the gang watching his second consecutive Addicks game. He couldn't be planning on getting in on the action, could he? This is going to be a hard watch.