Last Friday, on the eve of the new season, Heather McKinlay (Chair), Richard Wiseman (Vice Chair) and CAST board members Mark Batchelor and Lauren Kreamer met with Thomas Sandgaard at The Valley. Also present were Thomas’ partner Raelynn Maloney, CAFC Commercial Director Wayne Mumford and Fan Adviser Lucy Bishop. We are grateful to the club representatives for finding time to meet amid the hectic schedule in preparing for Saturday’s big kick-off.
The topics covered were as follows:
- Structured Dialogue: the club have committed to a meeting twice a year between the owner and CAST in addition to the relaunched Fans’ Forum. We will follow-up with Thomas and the Fan Adviser to confirm the arrangements and agenda for these meetings in line with EFL requirements to promote a mutually-beneficial and transparent relationship between the club and fans.
- Safe Standing: CAST outlined the background concerning safe-standing and highlighted that it is already in action at Celtic and Shrewsbury. The Sports Ground Safety Authority reported last month that rail seating enhances supporter safety and a government announcement is expected imminently permitting clubs in the upper divisions of the EFL and PL to proceed. A number of Premier League clubs already have rail seats installed which can be easily converted to safe standing areas. CAST proposed working with CAFC to survey the fanbase on the feasibility of introducing safe standing at some point in the future at The Valley. Thomas was amenable to this approach.
- The Valley: We explained to Thomas that CAST had previously applied for and been granted “Asset of Community Value” status for The Valley. To a large extent the protection provided by ACV status is symbolic. The potential to strengthen ACV and the protection of football grounds in general is on the agenda of the present Fan-Led Review.
- Fan-Led Review: We shared the outline of CAST’s input to Tracey Crouch’s Fan-Led Review of Football with Thomas and the club. We all agreed that what happened to Charlton prior to Thomas’ ownership should never be possible again. Thomas is also in contact with the Fair Game organisation, comprising clubs lobbying for positive change.
Thomas closed the meeting by thanking CAST and Charlton fans in general for all our efforts over the past decade to protect the club.
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