Frequently Asked Questions regarding ownership of Charlton and The Valley

In recent weeks we have received  a number of suggestions and questions regarding fans' priorities, the CAFC ownership situation and whether fans can step-up more proactively. We outline answers to some of the most common questions below including what CAST is doing. If you have any further thoughts or questions as a CAST member, a Charlton fan, a journalist or anyone who has an interest in investing in the football club, please contact us via email:


What are the Fans' Priorities for CAFC?

The Addicks' Charter outlines these priorities and articulates what Charlton fans expect for our club and from its owners.

The Charter was developed during and following an open meeting of fans, hosted by CAST, in December 2022. The Charter is a living document and we welcome further input.

Have CAST investigated supporter ownership models and fan fund-raising?

Yes – in 2020 in the midst of the ESI shenanigans CAST undertook detailed investigation into various models.

Back then we launched the ‘Our Club’ initiative and almost 5,000 fans quickly raised their hands to say they would be prepared to step up and contribute if needed. Publicly we did not take this any further as Thomas Sandgaard then arrived on the scene and bought the club. We took the view then, as we do now, that an owner who was prepared to invest significant sums into Charlton with a view to achieving promotion was the best-case scenario. We were, and remain, alive to the biggest hurdle for fan ownership, namely the separation of The Valley and the training ground from the football club.

However, we still have all the preparatory work undertaken at the time. We keep the research current. We maintain good contacts with people who were involved in the process at other clubs.

Are there any models that could work for Charlton?

The two most relevant models from our previous research are Portsmouth and Heart of Midlothian. In 2013 Pompey Supporters’ Trust raised sufficient funds to rescue their club from administration. Around half of the money was raised from individual supporters, the other half from a dozen or so wealthy individuals who were given the title of ‘Presidents’. The fund-raising was led by the Supporters’ Trust. They completed the purchase of the club and ran it for a few seasons before selling it on to Michael Eisner.

When Heart of Midlothian were in crisis around ten years ago, fan groups came together to form the Foundation of Hearts (FoH) and launched a direct debit scheme. Thousands of fans paid in what they could afford on a monthly basis to be a member of FoH. A wealthy local businesswoman and Hearts supporter, Ann Budge, bought the club out of administration and agreed a deal with the Foundation of Hearts that she would support the club until it was back on an even keel financially and then hand over ownership to the FoH. This happened last year, with Ann Budge continuing as Chair of the football club.

In both instances, those entities were in administration when fans stepped in. Our preparations for a fan ownership scenario in 2020 were for a worst-case scenario, namely the club being placed into administration – hoping for the best but being ready for the worst.

What would need to happen for supporters to buy a stake in Charlton?

At the open fans’ meeting in December, hosted by CAST, 83% of fans were in favour of some form of fan ownership. That is a significant mandate for the continued investigations into fan ownership which CAST has undertaken.

At present, Thomas Sandgaard is the owner of the football club and Roland Duchâtelet is the owner of The Valley and the training ground. The harsh reality is that they get to decide what happens next. In the past we have sounded both out in terms of fan investment but neither showed interest in the idea. If there is a change of ownership, we may decide to raise the matter again.

Should the club fall into administration, CAST would re-activate the Our Club initiative, and seek to fundraise from supporters in order to have a seat at the table and potentially take a stake in the club. We have the communications and marketing expertise on our board and among our members to take the campaign forward, and the financial and legal expertise to liaise with administrators. As we have always said, Charlton supporters are an extraordinarily talented, committed and passionate group of individuals, and if our club is at risk, we will fight to the last to save it, and keep it in the hands of those who truly love Charlton Athletic.

What would need to happen for supporters to buy the club outright? 

We would need to raise sufficient funds to buy the club and to pass the EFL Source and Sufficiency of Funds Test. It is important not to understate that task; we anticipate that any fan-led group would need either a very significant amount of money from a round of fundraising or an ongoing commitment from fans to contribute £x per month – or, more likely, both – in order to satisfy the EFL of the group’s ability to sustain the club moving forwards.

In the unlikely event that the present owner wished to gift Charlton Athletic Football Company debt-free to its fans, we would still need to have the financial means to keep the club going and to pass the EFL Source and Sufficiency of Funds Test. In a scenario where The Valley is owned by Roland Duchâtelet and rent is set by him (currently in the region of half a million pounds a year), that is far from a straightforward task.

Otherwise, we are talking a dire scenario here of liquidation, the resulting expulsion from the League, and the relaunch of the club, fan-owned and needing to work its way up from the bottom of the pyramid, as AFC Wimbledon have done. In such an instance it is doubtful in the extreme whether that entity would be able to play at The Valley.

How many supporters would have to be involved and how much would they need to contribute to take a stake in the club?

As the above perhaps makes clear, this is a difficult question to answer. Given the annual losses the club presently incurs, we suspect the EFL would require proof of funds of at least £10 million. To be taken seriously by administrators, should the club find itself in that position, we anticipate requiring several million.

5,000 fans contributing £1,000 each would raise £5 million. One of the learnings from the experience of other clubs in this situation is to offer fans the possibility of investing different amounts, depending on what they can afford, so for example 10,000 fans contributing on average £200 and 500 fans contributing £10,000 would deliver £7 million in total. With the right structure and credibility, it may be possible for Charlton fans to raise £5 million to £10 million as a one-off appeal. However, as outlined above, even this may not be enough to satisfy the EFL and would likely only cover running costs for a couple of seasons in League One.

What about the German model of 50+1? Would that work at Charlton? 

The German model came about when almost all German clubs were 100% fan/ community owned. The change in regulations was to give them more scope for future investment by allowing companies to take up to a 49% stake, with the fans effectively retaining majority control by way of 50% of the voting rights plus one vote which must belong to the parent club. This is a very different scenario to England at present where most clubs are already owned privately. There is nothing on the horizon to suggest English football overall would adopt such a model, so the only scenario would be as a specific ownership structure for our club, possibly based on a Portsmouth or Hearts model.

Who owns The Valley & Training Ground?

The short answer is Roland Duchâtelet.

The Valley and Sparrows Lane are owned by Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited (of which the directors are Roland Duchâtelet and Lieven de Turck) which is itself ultimately owned by Roland Duchâtelet as part of a group structure which includes Baton 2010 Limited (a UK entity) and Staprix NV as the parent (a company registered in Belgium, which is 95% owned by Roland Duchâtelet).

As is clear from the accounts for Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited to 30 June 2021, filed at Companies House in June 2022, the assets owned by that company (i.e., The Valley and the training ground) were valued at £11.7m in 2020 and £53.7m in 2021. The latter increase is attributable to a fresh valuation conducted in June 2021 (presumably by reference to ESI’s promise to purchase the assets for that sum, property only really being worth what someone will pay for it) and the acquisition of leasehold improvement assets valued at £44.2m, which were transferred to Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited as consideration for a deed of waiver and release of Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited’s obligations to Staprix NV. This was part of the sale to ESI.

It is our understanding that Thomas Sandgaard (through Clear Ocean Capital Limited, the vehicle through which he owns Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited) effectively stepped into ESI’s shoes as far as Roland Duchâtelet is concerned, taking out a fifteen-year lease over the premises.

What would need to happen for supporters to buy The Valley & Training Ground?

At present, the answer to that question lies with Roland Duchâtelet, who is the ultimate owner of those assets. We know that he values them at c.£50 million as a result of the ridiculous and false promises made by ESI. We do not think there is any realistic scenario (i.e., one that doesn’t involve an incredibly wealthy fan, or one of us winning the EuroMillions) where supporters could buy The Valley and the training ground as things currently stand.

Would it be possible for supporters to buy just part of The Valley e.g. the pitch or the memorial garden?

This would need the agreement of the freeholder, presently (ultimately) Roland Duchâtelet. In the past he has not shown any interest in such a proposition.

What rights does the Asset of Community Value (ACV) give us as supporters?

Since 2013, The Valley has been on the register of assets of community value. CAST originally nominated The Valley as an ACV and we renewed its status as such in 2018. The next renewal is due by January 2024 and we have this in our sights.

The ACV means that any owner of the ground who wishes to sell it (or any part thereof, including the car park) must inform the Royal Borough of Greenwich who will, in turn, inform CAST. We would then have six weeks to decide whether we wish to make a bid to buy the ground, during which time the ground could not be sold to anyone else. If we show interest in making an offer to purchase The Valley during that period, which we would doubtless wish to do, there is a further six-month moratorium period while a bid is prepared. During this time the ground cannot be sold to anyone other than CAST.

Let’s suppose that CAST did elect to make a bid and were able to raise sufficient funds during the six-month moratorium. That does not mean that the owner is obliged to sell the ground to us. The owner could sell to whosoever they wished and for whatever price they chose. They could also change their mind and not sell the ground at all.

If Charlton Athletic Holdings Limited itself is sold, it is our understanding that this would only amount to a change of shareholders of that company and would not amount to a disposal of The Valley. In that case there would be no obligation on the owner to inform the Royal Borough and no opportunity for any community bid to be made. We would only have this opportunity in the event of a planned disposal to a third party not connected to the club.

The main advantage of ACV status is that it stops disposal of the asset on the quiet. We would have the opportunity to gain publicity and galvanise opinion against the sale.

What is the planning position regarding The Valley & Training Ground?

The Sparrows Lane training ground is designated as 'Metropolitan Open Land' which offers the same level of protection as the green belt.

The Valley is designated “Community Open Space” and the use of the site as a stadium attracts some policy protection from the community facility policies in the Royal Borough of Greenwich's Core Strategy. The London Plan now provides considerable policy protection for sports facilities, only allowing these to be redeveloped where surplus to requirements, where a development includes equal or enhanced reprovision, or where the development is for an alternative sports use which outweighs the loss. The GLA and the Boroughs set the policy bar very high and development proposals involving the loss of sports facilities are routinely refused without exceptionally strong justification.

At CAST we keep a close eye on the planning situation. Mark Batchelor on the CAST board is a director of a planning consultancy and has experience working across Greenwich and football and sports provision in general. Mark cannot see how any developer would be able to acquire the site and secure planning permission for a viable and deliverable scheme. Not only will any applicant need to successfully negotiate the protective policy in the London Plan, but the development costs (including the cost of land acquisition) would be exceptionally high so the scale of development required to turn a decent profit while also meeting other policy requirements in respect of affordable housing and employment, for example, would be very significant and potentially beyond what would likely be considered acceptable in terms of impact on the townscape and the area’s character in general.

If you are not already among the 2,700 Charlton supporters who are members of CAST, do join today - it only costs £5 annually.