The EFL League One season is scheduled to start on Saturday 12th September - in under seven weeks’ time. The clock is ticking and we grow increasingly pessimistic about the likelihood of Charlton Athletic being permitted to take part in the competition.
We have tried to get concrete information from both East Street Investments and the EFL about what precisely is holding up approval of the "Paul Elliott-led consortium" but neither party is prepared to allow supporters – the lifeblood of the game - any insight into the details. It is getting on for two months since application for approval was made which must mean this is not straightforward.
It might be the case that key individuals within the consortium or who have significant control over CAFC are unable to pass the EFL Owners and Directors Test but we think the greater likelihood is that the problem lies with proof of source and sufficiency of funds. In which case it means that East Street Investments has failed to satisfy the EFL about its funding of the club for a full eight months. When a change in control of a club is proposed EFL regulation 16 requires the club to file "up to date Future Financial Information" which demonstrates firstly that there will be sufficient money available to fund the full season and, secondly, that the money is "clean". It is because ESI failed to do this that Lee Bowyer had to operate under a registration embargo from January onwards.
We have taken another look at the timeline of what happened at Bury last year to see how their situation compared to ours.
What was happening at Bury seven weeks before the kick off date of August 2nd 2019?
Steve Dale took over ownership of Bury in December 2018 and passed the Owners & Directors Test. He was then required to provide the EFL with a business plan to June 2020 and a commitment to provide proof of the funding required to underwrite that plan. During the following seven months he not only failed to do so (seem familiar?) but he also presided over a club that failed to pay wages on a number of occasions. Furthermore the club was subject to winding up petitions presented in the High Court by HMRC and a former employee and was being pursued by other clubs for outstanding debts. Dale eventually (June 19th) launched a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) in an attempt to satisfy the club's many creditors.
Charlton may be building up debts at present but so far there is no evidence of any action being taken by creditors. Elliott claims to have put money into the club to cover wages and says he will continue to do so. There may be income from sell-on fees or factoring that is keeping the club solvent day to day. This is all very well but it is irrelevant if the owners cannot provide satisfactory evidence of funding for at least the whole of next season.
In late June 2019 - 47 days before the beginning of the season - the EFL made it very clear to Bury FC (probably not for the first time) that the club's membership of the League would be terminated if they failed to provide a fully underwritten business plan for the season ahead.
Today is 47 Days before the start of the League One season and Charlton remain in limbo.
As Clive Efford MP said in his letter to EFL Chairman Rick Parry last week: "Fans are forced to watch powerlessly from the sidelines." Due to the reluctance of the EFL to engage with us and the refusal of ESI to enlighten us regarding the make-up of the consortium, we are not privy to all the facts. But, from where we stand, Charlton's situation in relation to meeting EFL requirements looks alarmingly similar to Bury’s.
Paul Elliott's consortium needs urgently either to show the colour and respectability of its money or move aside and allow other parties to the table. The EFL should issue an immediate public explanation of what is happening and should take decisive action so that alternative futures for our club can be explored if necessary.
That clock ticks more loudly with every passing day.
Over 1000 Charlton supporters have joined CAST in the last two months - no doubt motivated by the parlous state of affairs at our club. This has pushed our total membership over 2500 making us one of the largest supporters' trusts in the country. Together we are stronger. You can join here:
If you are concerned about the future of our club sign up to the OUR CLUB campaign here: