CAST meets Thomas Sandgaard

The CAST board were delighted to be able to have a meeting with Thomas Sandgaard on Wednesday evening and we are very grateful to him for giving us some of his precious time. Like all fans who have communicated with him before we found him to be open, engaging, witty and determined.

Thomas suggested that the meeting be one in which he was largely a listener. He has clearly learned a lot already about Charlton Athletic and Charlton supporters but he was keen to find out more about the background to the supporters trust movement in general and how CAST has operated since it was set up in 2012.

We explained our constitution and went through the formal purpose and objects of CAST as set out in the constitution. Notably - " achieving the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of the club".

We explained that, although the CAST board has worked productively with club staff on a number of initiatives over the years, most of our time has been spent in opposition to the ownership. We stressed that we really wanted to be in a position where we could work constructively and wholeheartedly with the club from top to bottom at a strategic level to help it grow, succeed and realise its potential. We made the point that it was no coincidence that Charlton's most successful years were those years when supporter engagement was at its strongest - with a fan on the board, the VIP scheme and the Target 40k group in operation. He clearly understood this - "the club's strongest asset is its fan base and previous owners have ignored that".

He was interested in how CAST operated with other supporters trusts and we explained that, through the Football Supporters Association, we have been centrally involved in devising and promoting the "Sustain the Game" initiative, the Covid protocols, the away ticket price campaign and safe standing. We told him about our good informal links with other trusts such as Wigan, Brighton and Fulham.

Thomas said that, if he ends up owning the club, he would like to work closely with CAST and he looked forward to further meetings.

He said that, although he didn't know a great deal about the EFL, he was beginning to think that the EFL had "a sweet spot" for Charlton. He was very encouraged by the fact that spectators might be admitted to the Doncaster game which he felt was a really good sign.

He said that he really wanted the stadium to be full and he was interested in any initiatives that might facilitate that. He said that "maximising income by upping ticket prices is a short-term idea and I always think long-term".

Of course we asked him if he could give us any updates on progress:

In terms of ESI1 and ESI2 he said he was "negotiating to allow them to take care of all the weird little deals they have among themselves. They will be in such a deep hole if it doesn't work".

He said he thinks he has "figured out what Roland wants and he has put something in front of him which will allow him to achieve that".

His final words were: "I can't imagine it won't happen".

And then he left to make a phone call to Belgium...