• Robert Gammon

Charlton Athletic: Relegation, Misinformation and Disaster Capitalists - PART 2

It could be a critical week for Charlton, as more interested parties gather around the table. But safety from expulsion isn’t assured and the parasitic figures that have infested this club still hover over the would-be carcass.

Previously on Charlton Athletic

Here is the second part to how Charlton Athletic have ended up in this mess and how they may still fall out of the football league.

In the previous article I summed up Charlton Athletic’s 2019/2020 season. How Roland Duchâtelet sold Charlton to East Street Investments [ESI] (while retaining the training ground and stadium - with a future deal to sell them for £50million), how ESI remained under a transfer embargo and couldn’t get the finances sorted and how this led to a cruel relegation. This lack of clarity on finances and in house bickering led to ESI changing hands and Charlton on the brink of expulsion from league football.

EFL Threaten Expulsion

It didn’t take long before the threat of expulsion came to the forefront of Charlton supporters, staff and players. The English Football League [EFL] made a statement confirming that three individuals from ESI had failed the Owners and Directors Tests [OADT] of the league and that this needed to be sorted or there would be consequences. This was clearly a thinly veiled threat of expulsion. You can see a more in-depth article on this here.

It was made more apparent that Charlton were in serious trouble. Even without expulsion, the transfer Embargo that Charlton was under was inhibiting its ability to resign its players and may the shrewd signings that it needed to field a squad next year in League One. Two potential signings in Washington and Gibley had been turned down.

The three individuals that failed the OADT included Paul Elliot and Chris Farnell. Farnell then had his office visited by angry fans. There was a desperation to get answers and find out who was pulling the strings and why they were getting so badly tangled.

During this visit Farnell was being met by Dave Jones who, along with Farnell, had been and around Bury when they were expelled from the league some 12 months prior. It didn't take much digging to see the clear links between the pair, Bury and a notorious investment business called SJ Global (I go into more detail here). It began looking less and less like the situation that Charlton was in was accidental but being orchestrated by serial disaster capitalists.

Despite this, the club said it was making an appeal for two of the members, while the EFL made it clear that those who didn’t pass these tests had to resign from being ‘Relevant Persons’.

#SaveCAFC Forces Farnell and Elliott Exit

Fans, ex-players and many more from the world of football gave their support to #SaveCafc on twitter in an effort to raise the profile of the problem affecting the club. The campign was simply people explaining what Charlton, or other football clubs, means to them and why it would be a tragedy to lose them. For instance, this is what it means to me. The #SaveCafc campaign, that was organised by fans, was a remarkable success and ultimately gave the situation developing in SE7 a national scope.

This pressure, both from the EFL and fans alike, forced owner Tahnoon Nimer to remove both Farnell and Elliott as directors of ESI and Farnell was also sacked as Club Lawyer. This begs the question: didn’t Elliott own ESI?

Well the answer is probably shrouded in legal speak, but what is likely to have happened is that the ownership of ESI transferring to Elliott was dependent on him passing the OADT. So his takeover of ESI for the last two months basically didn’t happen. This obviously hasn’t gone down well with Paul Elliott and he is currently consulting his legal options and seeking an injunction from ESI being sold to any other party.

This could be worrying as it had been stated that Paul Elliott was keeping the club and its staff afloat and the fact that so much of this has been kept in the dark has to be concerning to anyone affected. However the termination of ESI changing hands seems to be positive, at least in the short term.

The Good

Charlton seemed no longer to need to appeal against the OADT decision as the three personnel that failed were no longer deemed ‘Relevant Persons’, i.e., they didn’t have any real stake in the club. This has led to some promising outcomes for Charlton as the previously rejected signings of Washington and Gibley were able to go through and bolster the thin squad in time for pre-season with an EFL agreed limit on wages. This also meant that they weren't in breach of EFL regulations (at least not for this), and the risk of expulsion had been reduced.

Despite this good news, old squabbles began to rear their heads again with two more Range Rovers being mentioned once again. These had been bought with Charlton money and were in the hands of Elliott and Jones and, due to them not being involved in Charlton were being retrieved, as signed for by Matt Southall of all people. He remains as petulant as ever it seems and him and the other antagonist of this ownership debacle seem hell-bent in running Charlton’s name through the dirt, no longer looking like a respectable club or business.

Evidently this makes it clear that a change of ownership is needed. The interest in Charlton is not sparse with public interest by respected businessman Andrew Barclay being widely known with ex-Charlton CEO Peter Varney representing him. There are more names out there however with Thomas Sandgaard, a wealthy Danish businessman, also putting his hat into the ring publicly.

Sandgaard made it clear that Elliott and Farnell leaving meant he could proceed with his interest. The Bury connection has gone thanks to the efforts of fans, ex-players and many others and this gives Charlton time to be saved.

The Bad

But this isn’t a happy ending as many issues still remain. Such as:

  • ESI still own Charlton and have shown chronic mismanagement of the club and long term funding of players and staff is dubious.

  • In fact proof of funding still hasn’t been established by Nimer and could result in serious sanctions like expulsion.

  • Charlton are still under a transfer embargo, albeit a loose one, that makes signing players hard.

  • Roland Roland Duchâtelet still owns The Valley and the training ground and this may be a nail in the coffin for the likes of Saandgard. His stubborn nature that hindered his ownership has already put Andrew Barclay off of pursuing his interest in Charlton.

  • Paul Elliott isn’t letting up easy and might make any sale impossible.

This shows it could all still turn ugly and that #SaveCAFC is needed more than ever.

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