Thursday 22 June 2023

Shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic

With the League One fixtures due out at 9am today and a host of relatively attractive pre-season games lined-up for once, you would expect some excitement and perhaps even optimism amongst the club's supporters.

Sadly, that is over-shadowed by the continuing colossal lack of ambition on the playing front. After a clear-out of all those we could move on contractually and hype from Peter Storrie and Methven's consortium that a "Top Six" budget had been agreed as well as a mechanism that would allow recruitment to continue whilst the takeover drags on, we have signed precisely no-one. 

They told us they had identified all their targets and that their plan was in place. On season ticket deadline day we were linked with Alfie May and an offer was supposedly made. There is now doubt about that, but if it happened the offer was obviously small enough for mighty Cheltenham Town to ignore it.

Logic tells you that Thomas Sandgard isn't going to spend a penny more than the budget for last year, which they told us at varying times last season was "Top 4" and "Top 6." Indeed, the last player we paid a fee for was Scott Fraser 18 months ago. If we buy anyone, you can be sure the squad numbers will be trimmed to pay for it. 

The notion that "all interested parties" had agreed a transfer budget is laughable. Indeed, Peter Storrie told the Fans Forum last week that he had no idea what the takeover consortium's transfer budget might be. Charlie Methven has been waffling about being desperate to get the deal done to maximise the transfer window but I will bet my hat that they will drag this out to delay coughing up to Sandgaard until the last minute, avoiding taking on too many months running costs before the season starts and that they will start the season with a smaller and cheaper squad than we ended it.

Let's face it, it's taken them six months to get £11m and Proof of Funds together and their consortium has grown and grown in order to do even do that. We are now hearing in great detail about the EFL's various processes, Proof of Funds, Owners & Directors Tests and Financial Tests. We now know sequencing and timelines as well as all the other clubs in the queue. I believe Methven's group are managing the timeline process to hopefully conclude nearer August and blame the EFL. I am waiting for the statement that says "we will do what we can with the limited opportunities left to us in this window and focus on continuing the rebuild in January."

We are being played I tell you. 

Tuesday 6 June 2023

Global Football Partners take over SE7 Partners

Following signature of the SPA yesterday that sees SE7 Partners taking over from Thomas Sandgaard as Charlton owners (assuming Roland Duchatelet doesn't stick a lease-spoke in their wheel), today saw subtle organisational preparations.

As has been predicted, Charlie Methven and Ed Warrick have been joined as owners of SE7 Partners by Global Football Partners (GFP) the secondary group Methven set-up to facilitate the takeover by including other backers. GFP have taken a 75% controlling interest in SE7 Partners and Methven and Warrick's roles have changed from "persons with significant control" to mere "officers." I don't expect this to be the last changes to SE7 Partners either.

Rumours abound over the make-up of Global Football Partners. What's fairly clear is that Methven is likely to have a small stake (c 5%) and that Friedman and Brenner will own c 23% each in what is believed to be the largest single share ownership. That would tell you that the remaining 49% should be split across at least three other separate entities.

The other significant change here is that GFP are registered in the Cayman Islands, a tiny British Overseas Territory in the Caribbean renowned for tax avoidance and suspected money laundering. Indeed, there are more companies registered there than people and those businesses are not subject to the transparency of UK-registered businesses.

We have been told already, by Chairman-elect, Jim Rodwell, that the rationale for this is purely 'fiscal responsibility' and that there will be no secrets surrounding ownership or reporting, but if they don't need to tell you, they don't have to tell you, so we will have to see how that plays out.

In some ways it is encouraging to see so many investors, even if their personal investment is diluted/limited. Decision-making will need to be streamlined and you can't see relatively small financial backers seriously interfering in any footballing decisions, certainly not on a business-as-usual basis. However, larger decisions, such as subsequent investment might not be as easy.

With supporter interest on a high and expectations building, we will need to be patient this month as the takeover completes the final EFL hurdles. However, the first clues as to the real ambition should come soon after the window opens on 14th June, given that current CEO Peter Storrie continues to reassure us that a squad building budget has already been agreed between Sandgaard and the incomers.

Monday 5 June 2023

Now for the reality

Thomas Sandgaard's "arrogant, bullying and penny-pinching" dig this weekend has proven to be his parting shot as both parties finally sign the SPA and the takeover deal moves to the 'proof of funds' and 'Owners & Directors Tests" with the dynamos at the EFL.

Finally, all the 'he said, she said' should be over and we will see just what our new owners are all about. They may decide to jump the EFL gun (surely a formality by now) and may shortly release their long-awaited takeover announcement when they should confirm the make-up of the consortium (Friedmans, Brener, Methven, Warrick, Rodwell plus), the key operational players, their long term strategy and their, er, 100-Day plan. 

Hopefully we can now move on from Sandgaard's lack of ambition and start the season with renewed optimism, a Holden-lead squad and half-a-chance. 

Sunday 4 June 2023

Sandgaard speaks....

After a very long and unusual silence, Thomas Sandgaard has spoken out on LinkedIn about the takeover and he's directing the fire at Methven's consortium.

Too much water has passed under the bridge for anyone to swallow any baloney about Top 6 recruitment, however, I am not at all surprised by what else he has had to say about the would-be buyers. It's only common sense based on what has happened and where we find ourselves. 

He has been desperate to get out and there is zero logic in him playing silly buggers time and again to try and nickel 'n dime his buyers when he is on the hook for hefty monthly losses.

Indeed, Methven has been caught out repeatedly feeding guff to stooges bad-mouthing Sandgaard and trying to get supporters on his back. To some extent that has worked but Sandgaard has remained tight-lipped and more professional than those spreading rumours. 

"Arrogant, bullying and penny-pinching." I can see the arrogance and what he would deem bullying. The line these guys are trotting out is that they will "break him financially" if he is not careful. An empty threat if ever I heard one and one designed to impress gullible football fans. As I have said before, it made more sense that Sandgaard was being leveraged in these negotiations because they didn't have the funds first time around and these guys know they are paying over the top to match Spiegel. 

They are making a big play about wanting a deal done by 14th June when the window opens but haven't we also been told that they have all agreed a transfer budget so that will continue whoever the owner is? 

The urgency of the transfer window is nonsense in my opinion. None of them will really splash any cash and we will do most of our business in July and August inside our existing pay budget.

Time for Methven's backers to get real or throw the towel in.