Wednesday, 24 May 2023

'That game was not a bit flat' - Curbs on the Greatest Game

The latest Four Four Two has a special feature article on then Greatest Game with interviews with Curbs, Clive Mendonca, Sasa Ilic and Mark Kinsella.   Curbs said: ''Finals are normally an anti-climax and a bit flat. That game was not a bit flat.'

Clive Mendonca recalled: 'Really I wanted to sign for Sunderland.  I'd come down to Charlton, spoken to Alan Curbishley, and was really happy with what he said.'

When Sasa Ilic didn't concede in either leg of the play off semi-finals, it extended Charlton's streak of not letting in a single goal to nine matches.   Ilic comments: 'Your mindset becomes "There's no way I'm going to concede."  You need loads of luck, but when things go well and you're thinking positively, things happen.'

At Sparrows Lane, 'coach Les Reed changed the dimensions at their training ground to match the playing surface at Wembley.  Mendonca commented: 'Wembley - honestly, it's like an ocean.  It's huge.'  Meanwhile, Mark Kinsella was concerned that Mendonca was preoccupied with arranging tickets for his Sunderland supporting family and friends.

Curbishley admits: ''We were the underdogs that day, I suppose.  But we were confident because we hadn't let any goals in and it was a settled team.'

Sunderland charm merchant Niall Quinn recalls: ''Charlton all had suits with flowers on the lapel.  I think we turned up wearing tracksuits, we were the North East tough guys who were going to take down the soft southerners in their suits.'

Curbs observed: 'We had Sunderland where we wanted them.  Because they were a very offensive team and we were quick on the counter attack.  If they committed bodies forward, as I knew they would, we could hit them on the break.'

Quinn recalls ruefully, 'Richard Rufus' goal is the one thing I still insist should have been avoided.'  Curbs states: 'When Rufus scores, you think "Blimey, perhaps our name's on it."'

Had Charlton not won, Curbs believes that the team would have been broken up.  Mendoca says: 'I wish I could have done it against any other team in the league.'

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Friedman edges in front in takeover battle

An increased Joshua Friedman offer for Charlton has been accepted, subject to contract.  Richard Cawley led to believe Thomas Sandgaard and his associates are continuing to talk with other parties including senior figure at MSD finance group, American businessman Marc Spiegel and Armenian businessman Roman Gevorkyan.

Cawley warns: ‘But this is multiple wealthy people and their lawyers involved. A call to the club earlier this week just got a response of "talks are ongoing" without specifying any more than that.’

'Essentially if the paperwork can get done in time then the plan is that Charlton would be under new ownership by the very early part of June - in time (pretty much) for the opening of the transfer window.'

More here:

Monday, 8 May 2023

Armenian interest in Charlton

David Ornstein of The Athletic reports in relation to the Charlton takeover: ‘There are other interested parties, including two with considerable experience in club ownership. Robert Platek, a partner at American IT billionaire Michael Dell’s investment firm MSD Capital, is looking at Charlton as he is interested in adding an English club to his personal stable of European teams. He already owns Serie A’s Spezia and Portuguese top-flight side Casa Pia, as well as Danish second-tier team Sonderjyske.

But Platek is not the only multi-club suitor with his eye on the Addicks, as Armenian businessman Roman Gevorkyan is strongly considering a bid to make Charlton the flagship of his Noah Football Group fleet, which is comprised of Armenian Premier League side FC Noah and stakes in Hungarian top-flight team Debreceni VSC, French second-tier outfit Paris FC and Siena in Italy’s Serie C.'

Both of these proposals are reminiscent of Roland's network model, not necessarily flawed in principle, but meaning that Charlton's interests are subordinated to a wider plan. 

Thursday, 27 April 2023

Charlton takeover latest

Richard Cawley reports that a spokesperson for Marc Spiegel says that they look like they may close their deal for Charlton this week. Exclusivity period has expired with Thomas Sandgaard but they also added that negotiations and talks have continued since then.

Cawley warns, ‘Not only does any party buying Charlton need to pay the sum agreed with Thomas Sandgaard, they also have to show EFL how they will fund/run the club for the next couple of years. That process has become more stringent.’

He adds: 'If the deal falls through then TS needs to cover the losses. Summer months are the most painful as no income. Not got exact figures to hand but think £700k a month.'

According to Bloomberg, Spiegel is seeking financial backers for his takeover.   His bidding company — Football Strategies Group — has been in discussions with Charlton since early February, according to an investor document. 

Football Strategies Group signed a potential £11.6 million ($14.4 million) deal for Charlton. It is also looking to inject £20 million into the London club, according to the document. It describes loss-making Charlton as an attractive risk-adjusted investment, though doesn’t say what size stake is being offered. 

“Our ambitions are more than just purchasing a club,” Spiegel said in a telephone interview with Bloonberg. “We want to elevate the club, expose it to new audience and win on the pitch.” A spokesperson for Charlton declined to comment. 

From Spiegel's Charlton sales document: 'Current talent level and work ethic among employee base is not up to par.' VOTV website editor Rick Everitt comments: 'Might well be true but I’m not sure this is how you want to introduce yourself to existing staff?'

Richard Cawley reports: ‘Had further contact from Marc Spiegel's side regarding Charlton takeover. They say they are not looking for funds to run or acquire the club. They say the investment document circulating is to raise funds for some acquisition plans in the next 12-18 months.

Spiegel's side also say they have not been critical of staff or support. Say they had both "in the highest regard" and their desire is to "re-energise". They add they have "nothing but praise for what they have endured in last few years".

They also add that isn't a criticism of Thomas Sandgaard and that without his intervention there "wouldn't be a club" - "all credit to him for rescuing it".’

Spiegel aims to complete the takeover on Friday April 28th:

My hope is that the 600,000 Charlton fans in London don't turn up for the Port Vale game on Saturday.  Perhaps some of them will go to that other London club, MK Dons.

The investment document is a mixture of half truths and misconceptions, to put it mildly.  It doesn't speak well of the prospective owners.

£20m would largely be eaten up by two years' losses, unless some of the 600,000 turn up in SE7.

Friday, 10 February 2023

Pope's 'last chance' at Charlton

Nick Pope discusses how his time at Charlton kicked off his football career in an interview in The Times today.   When he started at Charlton, he had to follow the chief scout's car to Sparrows Lane as he did not know where it was.  

'I knew this was the last chance. I’d been accepted to go to university in September.'

He says they were “scabby” gloves that he pulled on to his hands that first time at Charlton’s training ground on Sparrows Lane.

“As a goalkeeper you do think of the first shot, ‘I have to get this.’ ” he says. “You don’t want to look like an idiot. You don’t want to look like you’re out of place.

“I remember wearing old, scabby gloves and catching loads of balls. All of a sudden, you’re chucked in and you’re with professional goalkeepers and a goalie coach and you’re doing actual drills.”

Charlton were impressed. He was at home when he got the call, and the offer of a two-year deal. “I was buzzing, yeah,” he says. “It felt like my last chance.”

Pope says every step is not a forward one. He joined Charlton on £125 a week. There were six loan spells at non-League clubs, starting at Harrow Borough. Aldershot was an hour and a half away, and the first time he met his new team-mates was walking up the aisle of the team bus for an away game.

There had been a debut for Charlton that year, coming on as substitute on the final day of the 2012-13 season. “Running on that day was awesome,” he says. He played 40 times for Charlton and when the club were relegated from the Championship in 2016, Burnley bid £1 million for Johan Berg Gudmundsson, and Pope went, in his words, “as an add-on”.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Charlton's chaotic cycle

 'A club stuck in a continually chaotic cycle.'   That is the verdict The Athletic has delivered on Charlton.

'Off the pitch, however, there is once again speculation about a takeover and another twist in Charlton’s increasingly chaotic existence.

Sandgaard was hailed as a charismatic saviour from the turmoil that had consumed the club under the ownerships of Roland Duchatelet and the East Street Investments (ESI) group.

Duchatelet’s six-year spell as owner from 2014, when he bought Charlton to add them to a network of teams already under his control, was a hostile, spirit-crushing experience for fans from the moment popular manager Chris Powell was sacked shortly after his arrival. Powell was the first of eight managerial changes under the Belgian, and player turnover was also high, with emerging talents such as Nick Pope,, Ademola Lookman and Joe Gomez all sold as Charlton slipped down into League One in 2016.

Ricky Holmes commented: “We tried to not let the protests affect us. You’ve got to feel for any club that’s been through what they have, it’s been turmoil. I thought with the new owner coming in it would be better but it doesn’t look all rosy. It’s a great club, with great facilities in a great location… you want to see them back to where they should be.”

ESI, a consortium fronted by majority shareholder Tahnoon Nimer and executive chairman Matt Southall, first failed to produce the funds expected and then collapsed in an embarrassing battle for control of the club.

Events took a farcical turn as police were called to the stadium “to prevent a breach of the peace” while legal papers were served on Southall in a baffling few days where nobody knew who was in charge at Charlton.

Five months of interest and prospective owners resulted in a bid by businessman Paul Elliott, backed by lawyer Chris Farnell, being rejected by the EFL before Sandgaard finally became majority owner.

From choosing to reveal his interest in buying the club via Twitter, to wielding a guitar on the pitch as he played Addicks To Victory, the heavy metal song he penned for the club, Sandgaard — a businessman based in the US state of Colorado and founder of multi-million dollar medical device manufacturing company Zynex Inc — has been an eccentric presence.

“We had quite high hopes actually when Thomas Sandgaard took over,” says Heather McKinlay, chair of the CAST. “He went through a lot to get the ownership sorted, because at that point it was in the courts and everything. It was a complex transaction and he showed a lot of determination to get that done.

“We all felt that hopefully it would be the start of a new era but he was maybe a bit over-exuberant with some of his comments — he talked about (being in) the Premier League in five years, things like that.

“That probably is where it started to go wrong for him. If he had come in saying that we’re in the third tier, that’s how it is and it might take a while to get out, there’s a lot that needs rebuilding and we’re going to need to pull together to achieve it, that would have been a more realistic foundation. Unfortunately, he didn’t bring in the experienced management off the field and he’s chopped and changed managers on the field.”

The lack of formal management structure and Sandgaard choosing to involve his family in club operations “aren’t usually recipes for success” in the game, as one former football executive, speaking anonymously to The Athletic, observed.

Staff describe Sandgaard as stubborn and unwilling to accept his own failures. After initially humouring his image as the ‘rockstar CEO’ — Sandgaard is in a rock band of the same name — the feeling around the club is that too much emphasis is placed on his own image and putting himself, rather than the club, at the centre of things.

Charlton remain an appealing club for investment due to their London location, the size of their fanbase and a stadium that’s Premier League-ready, but sustainability remains a hot topic.

Sources familiar with the situation have indicated to The Athletic that a takeover could happen within the month, with the possibility of US-based investors looking to take a significant shareholding in the club while Sandgaard retains some level of ownership.

After another turbulent few weeks of boardroom speculation, Charlton fans are once again left pondering who the newest cast of characters looking to invest in their club might be and, more importantly, what their intentions are.'

Monday, 2 January 2023

Uncertainties surround takeover deal

Rick Everitt reviews the latest evidence on takeover moves at Charlton following the presence of Charlie Methven and former Oxford United director Simon Lenagan at yesterday's game.   His conclusion is that 'something doesn't add up':

It appears that just £3.3m of the £11m takeover price would be working capital which, given that the club can expect to lose around £6m a year, 'doesn't touch the sides'.   Prospective investors have told that there is the prospect of draconian savings, including on the football side.   But how would that help the club to get out of League One or even stay there?   

There is also uncertainty about the £12m of loans provided by Sandgaard.  Roland, of course, still owns The Valley and the training ground and wants £50m for them.

To me this all smells like the Thames did in the 1950s.