Protecting the future of Charlton Athletic

Two weeks on from our previous statement - and still the very existence of Charlton Athletic Football Club is under threat.

The EFL investigation continues, and although the Club somehow managed to pay the April wage bill, our new owner, Tahnoon Nimer, has still not paid any funds into the Club. Any remaining faith is rapidly running out. It remains desperate times at Charlton, with the prospect of the club running out of money imminently.

This week we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the local elections in Greenwich where the Valley Party gained 14,838 votes, leading to a u-turn in the council’s attitude to having a professional football club at the heart of their community.

Fans are hoping for the best - but preparing for the worst. We may have to save the Club again.

Last time we outlined how CAST is actively working to this end.  Here is an update:

  • Tahnoon Nimer has stated publicly he has the best interest of Charlton at heart.  We now need to see evidence.
  • We continue with our weekly questions to Director Marian Mihail. Obviously, we are currently focused on when funds will be paid into the Club. We are firmly of the view that it is not a tenable or prudent way of running any business, but especially a football club, for its owner not to have a clear plan for investment. As we made clear in this week’s questions we need clear answers, but Mihail was unable to supply any.
  • We are also trying to understand what has to happen for the conflict with the ESI Board to be resolved.  This conflict cannot continue to overshadow the future of our great and historic Club. Unfortunately, this being a dispute between two individuals, our abilities to assist in resolving it are limited. We will continue to bring pressure to bear on the parties involved to resolve their dispute and ensure that it does not place the club in further danger. We know that fans are fed up with the sniping on social media, and we agree entirely with the view that this is a sideshow and a distraction from these serious issues.
  • The EFL investigation of the takeover continues and they have responded to our enquires. They have offered us a meeting to discuss our issues - but not until after the lockdown is finished. In response we have suggested an online/ video call. We continue to liaise with them, and to impress upon them the importance of taking fan voices and interests into account.
  • We will continue to lobby that should any EFL sanctions be applied, these should be directed at the individuals involved in any wrong-doing. Why should the fans be the ones punished? We are determined … NOT ANOTHER BURY.
  • Within the last week the EFL has confirmed Claudiu Florica and Marian Mihail have both passed their Owners and Directors Test (popularly known as the Fit and Proper Person Test). Bearing in mind a very recent judgment by a court ordering Mr Florica to repay in excess of 10 million Euros to the Romanian State, many fans question the EFL’s decision and are worried about his involvement in Charlton. We will be pushing the Club to clarify the new roles and to clearly identify the new Senior Management Structure. Who’s responsible for what?
  • Local MP Matthew Pennycook has responded to our correspondence expressing his support. We are pleased to have him on board. We may well need his expertise and influence very soon.
  • Staprix (Roland Duchatelet) still owns The Valley and Sparrows Lane. We recognise how critical that relationship will be if we do reach a point where the Club is changing ownership, and particularly if the fans are to be involved in that process. There is not a great deal we can do right now on that front, but we are on the case.
  • We have had communication with a potential purchaser of the Club.
  • We are taking legal advice in preparation, should the Club move into some form of insolvency scenario. We aim to be as ready as possible, in circumstances where matters are likely to develop very quickly. It is likely significant sums would be required to save Charlton, therefore we are currently concentrating on the complex issue of fund-raising, and understanding the legal issues and framework within which that would need to take place.
  • Relatedly, we have been monitoring the practices of the Courts in relation to insolvency matters in light of the COVID-19 crisis. We are mindful that the instigation of a liquidation process by a Club creditor is the biggest short-term risk to the Club’s existence. We are told that HMRC has very recently taken the decision to seek the dismissal of all winding up petitions due to come before the Courts, and therefore, presumably, not to issue any new ones until they have capacity to deal with them. This relieves some of the concern that HMRC could seek to wind the Club up, for now at least.
  • It has been suggested that non-nationals cannot hold a majority shareholding in any company (such as Panorama Magic General Consultancy) registered in Abu Dhabi (we understand Tahnoon Nimer is a Syrian citizen.) We do not think this is the case. Our understanding is that UAE Federal Decree Law of 2018 allows non-Abu Dhabi nationals to own companies.
  • We met with Ashley Brown and Deborah Dilworth of the Football Supporters Association. They have been tremendously helpful, both in terms of their experience of fan run clubs and Ashley’s personal involvement in the crises at Portsmouth. We are exploring all options open to us, including fan ownership.
  • We appreciate the Club has a problem regarding season ticket sales for season 2020/21, and the delay of over £1m of income. Separately though, the Club is holding money paid by fans for tickets purchased before the closedown as well as unused season tickets for the four unplayed home games of 2019/20. For some this will be money urgently needed at this difficult time. The club's response that refunds for postponed match day tickets will be processed "when the ticket office opens following the end of the current lockdown"" is not good enough and we will be pursuing this.