We are very grateful to Ged Roddy and Steve Gallen for coming to meet Charlton fans on Wednesday evening and for answering the many questions put to them about the current state of the club.
You can watch the full recording of the evening here (and we strongly recommend that you do) but we are very grateful to the CAST members who sent us in their notes, from which we have been able to compose a summary of the main points (below).
The question and answer session begins about 5 minutes into the recording after the general introductory stuff.
Q: We read that player recruitment is a team effort but is there a hierarchy
within that ? Must there always be a consensus ? What happens if you two agree on a player but the manager isn't keen ? Or Steve and Nigel want a player but Ged isn't convinced ?
SG: There is a hierarchy, of course it's the owner. He has the ultimate say. What happens is that scouts and analysts come to me. I then go to Ged and we share. We go to Nigel try to get him on board, and, if so, we go to the owner.
If Nigel is not keen it won't go forward. The manager needs to want the player and the chairman of course has to sanction it. We try to get a consensus. At no stage has there been three of us overruling the other. What we try to do with every position is try to have five targets. I've lost count of the number of players we looked at. Sometimes you get knocked back but I've learnt in this job that you can't get disappointed for too long. I move on.
GR: Whereas there are four of us working together scrutinising players, there needs to be just one person communicating with the agents, or else they try to play you off against each other. We've done seventeen different contractual transactions this summer. Steve's been at the sharp end of that and he has done a fantastic job.
We've brought twelve or thirteen players into the club, which is too many in a normal situation and we've tried to put a team around Steve to give him support on that. In the last week of the window Steve went down with Covid which didn't help. We also do a lot of work before the window building depth charts of four or five options we are looking at for each position.
With the last owners Steve had had to let all the scouts go so he was having to do it on his own. Twelve months on we have systems and processes in place to support Steve.
SG: My life is much easier now, as I've got a lot more help around the place. I was doing far too much. The transfer window months were absolutely draining. I was very close to Lee Bowyer - not because we were best friends but because it felt like it was just us against the world. You spread yourself too thin if you try to be in charge of recruitment, the academy, sports science etc, and Ged has taken a lot of that weight off my shoulders and I can now focus on transfers and contracts.
As well as the thirteen signings we re-signed Pearce, JFC, Watson and Matthews. Each one is a negotiation.
Loads of agents up and down the country were rubbing their hands together when Thomas Sandgaard came into the club but for me personally no one is going to take us for a ride. We signed thirteen players but were talking to fifty agents. Although we have plan A to E, we still have to let the players who are low down the list know that we're interested before it gets too late in the window or they won't come. I was desperate for the final day not to be so hectic and to have got things done earlier but in my experience it never ever happens that way.
Q: How many targets did we miss out early in the window, and how do we identify them (eg analytics)?
GR: We have a database of players measuring the quality of the player. It's part of the armoury. There are so many aspects to bringing a player on board. The analytics is the starting point, we then scout them (UK wide in person, video scouting internationally) then sit down in the office and talk, and if we think we've got a target we also look at social media to check what their social life is like, as they're not
only players but role models, and we pick up the phone to have chats with people about what the players are like.
SG: For example Sam Lavelle. I went to watch him and my notes basically said "He's a
winner". The manager spoke to every single player before we went ahead with it. I can get it to the six yard box, but the manager has to turn up for the tap-in. The manager needs to feel comfortable. In previous years I'd start with Lee; it'd go to Thomas Driessen and then Roland, so it is not much different now. If Roland said no it was finished so it's not much different.
Q: Did we miss out on targets early in the window?
SG: No. Well, yes and no. Players are out of contract end of June, so you might want to do business in May but, if you try to sign them, their club can demand a fee even though they've only got a few weeks left on their contract. One club asked £2m for a player in League One! There are three clubs in particular who are spending massive amounts (big wages) and it is a big risk.
Q: Did our plans get spoiled by Ipswich and Wigan?
GR: I think some of them did, but I think if they're honest we've done the same to them in some cases too. It was a battle and maybe at times they had a bigger cheque book than us. Agents have an idea of where we, Wigan and Ipswich have gaps in the squads and they try to play us off each other. That is their job.
SG: We are a massive club in this division but if someone wants to go to play for someone else, no problem because there are loads of other players who want to come and join us.
Q: Ged - who introduced you to Thomas Sandgaard and how did your recruitment to CAFC come about? Was there a recruitment process ?
GR: I was introduced to Thomas before he owned the club. He asked me to help him with some of the work around the Fit and Proper Persons Test. I was working for FIFA at the time, and I thought that was it. He later called me to come and meet him and asked me to work for him at the club. I was Thomas' appointment. He did his research on me as an individual.
Q: You mentioned depth charts - but why did it take so long to get a left back in, given the injury to Purrington ?
SG: I was speaking to TS on deadline day, and he asked me about a left back. We had been talking about a few during the window but I said I didn't think those available at the time would improve us and I advised against signing any of them. I knew we had Pape Soure coming in, so I thought it would be better to wait until after the window. I think Pape will do a good job for us. Did we miss someone we could have got ? There were a lot of maybes. No one jumped out.
Q: Why have we got no up and coming Premiership loanees?
SG: I make it my business to know Arsenal (Bielik), Chelsea (Gallagher, Maatsen) and West Ham (Cullen) youth players. I look at Tottenham a bit and Liverpool (Millar), Man Utd and City.
I didn't think there were many from those clubs that could come in and help us this summer. Chelsea have sold a lot of under 23 players this summer. I was considering Miguel Azeez at Arsenal but, when I spoke to his agent, he was already going to Portsmouth and, because Harry Arter became available, I didn't go in fighting to spoil their deal.
Q: Was reducing the age of the squad an aim in the window? If so, how do Shinnie's departure and Arter's arrival fit in ?
GR: We definitely talked about bringing young players on longer contracts who would have future market value for the club. Previously, we've been having to sign free agents etc on one year contracts, which means we're having to rebuild the squad every season. We need to have assets of our own that we can trade. The owner recognises the importance of that and has made budget available for fees.
SG: We sold the crown jewels over the years and made money. It is what we had to do. On the Harry Arter thing. He was desperate to come to us. I like it when a player is desperate to come to us. Dobbo, Clare, Albie Morgan all have their strengths and good qualities, but the three of them together needed a bit of experience to help them out and Harry Arter provides that.
GR: Over recent years the Academy has generated £32m in transfer fees which has at times helped to keep the club afloat. Thank God for Steve Avory and his team. In future we want to sell on our terms when the time is right, not being forced to.
Q: Has Deji been offered a new contract?
GR Yes, he has been offered a contract. We're delighted with the progress that he's making. He's very much a Charlton boy. We are in the process of negotiating a new contract with him now, we can't go into more detail now.
We have talent in every age group in the Academy.
Q Before a player signs, is their number one concern salary or is the state of the club, the ownership, chances of playing etc important ?
SG: Player wages in The Championship will generally be double ours. Rare that a player will come to us if we're offering less money, because their agent will be advising against it. I can't believe how much players listen to their agent.
GR: And also what the agent will earn from the deal, if the agent thinks they'll earn more from another club, they'll go with them.
Q: If we'd been able to sign players like Lee and Arter (rather than Clare and Dobson) earlier in the window we might be in a better position
SG: Elliott Lee didn't want to leave Luton. He wasn't available in the first few weeks of the window because he was in the Luton team. We look at players on the periphery of Championship squads (eg Shinnie last year) and see whether they might be available.
Dobbo and Clare are our players. I like Lee and Arter, but there's a risk they could go back in January. We can work to develop and improve Dobbo and Clare and hopefully they will become established players for Charlton.
Q: Do you think the Charlton Academy is viable under the disastrous and poorly thought through EPPP regulations which destroy so much of the reward and remuneration previously awarded to clubs like Charlton who actually put the time and effort into bringing young players through rather than farming them from other Academies?
GR: I was one of the architects of EPPP ten years ago. It was controversial at the time but it has proved to be a success in many respects. Not in every way but in many. The aim was to try to create more and better home grown players and you only have to look at the England team to see that it has worked.
Charlton isn't in a worse position because of it. In monetary terms we are better off. We receive about £800k a year from the Premier League under the EPPP. That is double the money previously.
Steve Avory had plans for Category One six years ago but Roland Duchalet pulled the plug on them.
We have one of the best Academies in the country, and we should definitely be going forward to Category One. It is great to be working with Steve Avory and, we hope, taking the club to Category One status.
Q: Are we disadvantaged being Category 2 ?
GR: We are. We don't get the same level of compensation if lose a player, and if we go Category One it would double the money we receive from the Premier League. We could also target young players nationally instead of within an hour and a half travelling - although it is our policy to work within our local community.
In the last twelve months Palace has become a Category One academy, which makes our situation more difficult. They are on our doorstep. For the good of the club we also need to take that step.
Q: Did we have a target of a proven 20 goal a season striker ?
SG: I think Jayden Stockley is a 15-20 goal a season striker. I think Conor Washington has the
capability to reach that level. There is Jonathan Leko. Josh Davison has improved considerably. Now that we've got more creative players we should make more chances. There were discussions early in the window, but I'm happy with what we've got now.
Q: January we do have budget. (Is it a realistic budget in your view) ?
GR: There is a budget. I think it is realistic but we have to be careful in January as it's difficult to get value for money.
Q: What was the decision behind Ashley Maynard-Brewer going to Ross County given the likelihood of him sitting on the bench up there ?
SG: Don't think that we weren't talking about that every day over the summer. He didn't play in the first few games but we were getting word behind the scenes that he was going to play. Ged did a deal that favours Ross County financially if he plays, and favours us if he doesn't. I would have preferred it if he'd
gone to Orient or Crawley but Ross County will playing Celtic and Rangers and the like and they are the club that wanted him and he wanted to go.
Q: Why have we signed players who are unfit and can't play two games in a week?
SG: Sam Lavelle, Charlie Kirk and Jonathan Leko had been playing regularly for their previous clubs. Yes, Elliott Lee and Charlie Arter had not been playing but that is why they were available. If they had been playing we wouldn't have been able to sign them. Pape Souare was playing for Palace under 23s. They are not lads who haven't done a pre season but we have to be patient. For a few weeks we will have to go Saturday to Saturday until they are up to speed.
Q: Why have we signed so many wingers when we don't have a decent centre midfield player who can play 90 mins ?
GR: We wanted to bring pace into the squad and I like to think we've achieved that. We have some exciting young wingers at the club now. We have tried to get the right balance into the midfield so the manager has options.
SG: We've got six good midfielders and some youngsters coming through. It is all about the manager finding the right blend now. They are all vying for places.
Q: How worried are you ? It feels like something really major isn't working. How much time does Nigel Adkins have ?
GR: The manager is in the hot seat and he has to find the right balance and chemistry. We've had some glimpses of what we want to see. But let me be absolutely clear. When I told Thomas we were doing this meeting this evening he said to me to remind the supporters that he is in it for the long term, and there's a long term plan.
Nigel is in the hot seat, he needs support as well as scrutiny. The performance last night - I enjoyed aspects of it. We've been watching Corey in training and we didn't know how he would react in a match. We saw the potential of this group of players in the first half. We didn't crumble when our backs were against the wall. Also, I see the players every day and there is a good atmosphere. Everyone is searching for the right chemistry and the right way to get this fixed.
SG: It ruins your life if Charlton are losing. I will do anything I can do to help Nigel and Johnnie. The manager and the squad are good enough.
Q: Ged - Is it a good thing that Thomas phones you after a game? Is that instead of phoning Nigel ?
GR: Thomas is incredibly engaged in all aspects of the club. He comes to training every day. He has breakfast with the players and comes to team meetings. He immerses himself in the football club. He would probably clean the boots if we asked him to. He is sitting in on the tough conversations in the de-briefs.
He rings me after the game because Nigel is doing the media then but he'll speak to Nigel later. He is speaking to everyone. He is great to work for and he is really good news for the club.
As well as being in the training ground he also spends a lot of afternoons with staff at the Valley. He wants to see the Valley full and he wants a good experience for fans on a game by game basis. He's really ambitious for the club which can be challenging for us, but I prefer that.
Q: Any update on Ronnie Schwartz ?
SG: Ronnie is injured and back in the Denmark at the moment. We are all disappointed with the whole situation. We had a couple of enquiries for him at the end of the window but they didn't come to fruition. When he gets back we'll support him and try to get him fit and back for us and trying to get in the team.
After the end of the time available for questions both guests thanked us for the invitation and stressed that it was a privilege to be able to speak to supporters:
GR: It demonstrates the journey we still have to go on that you think this might be a chore for us. It is an honour. We will never shirk coming to talk to people
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