For those of us struggling to keep abreast of developments at Charlton Athletic we thought we would try to produce a weekly update of events. This is not an attempt to provide a comprehensive and detailed analysis of every twist and turn. It is designed for those who are looking for a broad and manageable overview.
Last week we invited fans who had questions about the club to send them to us so that we could put them to the Directors in a co-ordinated fashion. Below are the responses from Marian Mihail:
Q1 - Please summarise the Board’s strategic plans for the club between now and the end of 2020?
The Board’s immediate focus is getting the club through these unprecedented times. At this stage, we don’t know when and in what form football will return and our priority is making sure Charlton is in a stable position, whenever that is. As we mentioned in our previous statement, this will require investment from the ownership and the first instalment of that investment will come into the club towards the end of this month, for the reasons I explained in the article you published on April 3rd.
Our longer-term strategy will ultimately depend on whether we are in the Championship or League One next season with planning for both eventualities in place.
Either way, the stability and growth of the club will need to come from stable funding. That stable funding in any club comes from the owner but it is also important the club can generate revenue too. If the club’s financial wealth is linked only to its owner, then that isn’t healthy for the football club. So our focus will be using the funds injected by the ownership and the funds that come into the club (e.g. sponsors, player sales, ticketing) to stabilise and grow the club.
Q2 - Who is currently overseeing day-to-day operational matters at the club?
The structure of the day-to-day operations has returned to the structure prior to East Street Investments' takeover.
This means the footballing side is being looked after by Lee Bowyer and Steve Gallen, as Director of Football, with support from the Club Secretary Chris Parkes and Steve Avory managing the academy and its players remotely.
From the business side, the senior management team continue to meet (via video call) two-three times a week. The team consists of Steve Gallen, Chris Parkes and Steve Avory, as well as the heads of department for operations, commercial, ticketing, communications, finance and human resources.
Away from the day-to-day operations, all major decisions required are finalised and approved by the board. The senior management team report to the Board of Directors.
Claudiu and I meet (via video call) between once and twice a week with the club’s senior management team as a whole and are in touch with them individually throughout the week.
Q3 - Whilst recognising that currently decisions about club staff must be difficult, we have the following related questions:
- what has the team management instructed the players to do whilst in lockdown?
The club’s footballing staff have remained in contact with the players throughout this lockdown period. The players’ physical and mental wellbeing is being monitored by the medical and sports science team under direction from Lee Bowyer.
- have any club staff been furloughed or are there plans for this? The discussions about dealing with the coronavirus crisis have been the major topic on our calls with the senior management team. As I mentioned earlier the Board’s immediate focus is getting the club through these unprecedented times.
Operations stopped at the training ground and The Valley on March 18th. Security staff remain on site at both locations 24/7 and a few staff have been to The Valley to support the set-up and execution of Charlton Athletic Community Trust’s essential coronavirus support work.
We have placed a number of permanent staff on furlough using the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme as an alternative to considering other measures at this stage.
We have placed them on furlough leave to allow access to the government scheme and maintain everyone’s employment during these very difficult financial times.
The club is also in discussions with our players and the PFA about potential wage deferrals and we are grateful to the players who have been very supportive and constructive in our discussions.
- how long will be needed between the end of lockdown and the players being ready to resume competitive action?
The footballing management continue to monitor this point. There are various recommendations they are considering suggesting different lengths of time, varying from three weeks to five weeks. Our footballing staff feel a minimum of four weeks is required.
- what are the plans for the players to get a holiday this year?
This is all dependent on when football returns, this is a fast moving situation and player holiday is a topic we will continue to review. No matter what happens we are expecting a gap between the 2019/20 season ending and the 2020/21 season starting. So our footballing staff are anticipating that there will be a break in this period.
- as it is highly unlikely the season can be finished by 30th June, what does the club plan to do regarding players’ contracts/player loans that are due to expire this June?
In the football world there are still a lot of unanswered questions around players with contracts expiring. The football authorities are discussing this and we are awaiting guidelines from the EFL. It is something our football management team are monitoring closely to make sure we are in the best position once we have some clarity.
- How is the club preparing for the recruitment of players in the next transfer window?
Steve Gallen continues to liaise with his scouts, Lee Bowyer and Johnnie Jackson regarding potential targets. The football landscape, players wages and contracts will change because of the situation around the world. As always, we want to be in a good position to get the best players at the best value for our football club and that is something Steve and his team are focussed on.
Q4 - What is happening about the presence of Messrs Southall and Heller on the ESI Board?
Matt Southall and Jonathan Heller have been removed from the club’s Board of Directors.
Matt Southall continues to be on the ESI board as a B director as is his right as a B shareholder. Jonathan Heller was appointed to the ESI board independently and has not expressed an intention on leaving.
I must reiterate neither are involved at the club or in the decision making. As to why they remain on the ESI board, you are best off directing your questions to them.
Q5 - What is the current situation regarding the EFL lifting the registration embargo, and what is the plan should any individuals fail the ODT?
The current board of directors has only been working on getting the embargo lifted since just before Claudiu and myself were appointed to the Board of Directors last month, so the process on the lifting of the transfer embargo is not as far along as we would like.
The club has submitted documents for EFL approval to demonstrate the source and sufficiency of funds. Conversations with the EFL are ongoing and the EFL remain supportive and have informed us what remains outstanding.
The club has also submitted documentation for Claudiu and I as the new directors, for the Owners’ and Directors’ Test. No final decision has been received, but we are confident we will both pass the test.
Q6 - What contact has been made with the other parties in the legal action started by former CAFC directors and what is the latest with this dispute?
The club received an initial letter from former directors of Charlton Athletic last month saying they were looking to take legal action to unpick the sale of the club to ESI in January.
This dispute does not just involve the club but also the other companies that previously owned the club, as well as ESI, which is a separate company from the club with more than one owner. For this reason we can’t talk publicly on this other than to say that no other legal proceedings have taken place at the time of writing – no case has been filed and no additional letter has been received by the club.
CAST has set up a discrete address for fans who wish to put questions to the directors and senior management of the club. More details here: https://www.castrust.org/2020/04/keep-the-questions-coming/
Over 100 people have joined CAST in the last few weeks taking our membership to just over 1200. Together we are stronger. If you are not a member or you know someone who isn't it is simple to join: https://www.castrust.org/join/