Who is going to own our club?

There has been a flurry of activity at Companies House over the past twenty four hours, relating to SE7 Partners Limited. As many will know, this is the entity set up by Charlie Methven and Ed Warrick in December of last year, with a view to purchasing Charlton Athletic. Six months on, we understand that deal is done subject to EFL approval.

The recent changes to SE7 Partners Ltd Companies House page pertain to the company’s people with significant control (or PSC) register. The PSC register scheme was introduced in 2016 and requires all UK companies to publish details of those who control that company. That includes anyone with more than 25% of the company’s shares, but can also include those who don’t own shares but exercise significant influence or control over the company, as well as other categories.

It is important to note that a company only has to record the first legal owner, rather than the ultimate owner. That means that where a company is owned by another company, only that entity need be recorded on the PSC register as a relevant legal entity (RLE).

All of which brings us to SE7 Partners Ltd. When the company was incorporated, Methven and Warrick were recorded as persons with significant control, each having owned more than 25% but not more than 50% of shares in the company, along with equivalent voting rights and the right to appoint and remove directors. That direct ownership ceased on 3 June 2023 (though they are still directors), and they were replaced by Global Football Partners Limited, which is now the sole PSC - owning 75% or more of the shares in SE7 Partners Limited. The company’s confirmation statement shows that Methven and Warrick’s one share each were both transferred to Global Football Partners Limited, such that it is now the only shareholder in SE7 Partners Limited.

So, who or what is Global Football Partners? All we can say for sure is that it is a company registered and incorporated in the Cayman Islands, with a Cayman PO box address.

The reasons behind ownership via Cayman are well-known. Foremost among them, as this article perhaps makes clear, is privacy. There is almost no information required by the Cayman Islands for the registration of a company there. The Registrar of Companies in that jurisdiction is allowed to release only very limited categories of information about companies, including their name, date of registration, address and type of company. Even the names of directors and shareholders are not made public, unlike in the UK where that information, along with numerous filings, are required to be published on Companies House. What that means for present purposes is that we, the fans, don’t and can’t know, by reference to independently-verifiable information, who the ultimate owners of our club are going to be.

Then there’s the jurisdiction’s tax-efficient status. Cayman is one of the world’s most commonly-used jurisdictions for offshore holding structures, and for obvious reason. Many of the taxes which would be levied against a UK company or individual do not exist in Cayman. Jim Rodwell told us when we spoke with him back in May that the Cayman structure is “fiscally responsible”. As we observed at the time, that can only really be a euphemism for “paying less tax”. It perhaps also says something about the owners’ ultimate intentions for our club, and potential plans to make a profit from its sale.

We remain of the view that the ownership structure of our club – and all football clubs – should be transparent. We should know the detail of who is behind it in order that we can hold them to account and challenge them as to their intentions. Rodwell previously told us that the full ownership structure would be submitted to the EFL and would therefore be transparent. The names of Joshua Friedman, his son Spencer, and Gabriel Brener are already in the public domain. We have also been told that Methven will hold a small stake – around the 5% to 7% mark.

At present we do not know the full detail of how the ownership investment will be structured or whether there are any other significant individuals involved. We sincerely hope that this information regarding Global Football Partners will be shared with supporters and that this will be done via official channels rather than manipulative leaks. We may need to wait until completion of the EFL process for this. All we know for sure right now is that the Cayman structure prevents the level of transparency that UK-based ownership would provide.


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