About The Trust
The Charlton Athletic Supporters' Trust (CAST) was formally launched on the 5th of December 2012. This date was chosen because it marked the 20th anniversary of the club's return to The Valley from the exile years.
CAST working in partnership with CAFC
CAST's stated mission is to protect, preserve and promote Charlton Athletic Football Club for this and future generations. We are a membership organisation, constituted democratically and affiliated to the Football Supporters’ Association plus fall under the auspices of the Financial Conduct Authority.
The formal aims of CAST (as set out in the constitution) are:
- to be the vehicle through which a healthy, balanced and constructive relationship between CAFC and its supporters and the communities it serves is encouraged and developed
- being the democratic and representative voice of the supporters of CAFC and strengthening the bonds between CAFC and the communities it serves
- achieving the greatest possible supporter and community influence in the running and ownership of CAFC
We regularly carry out surveys and consultations on issues relating to supporters. We have strong connections with Supporters’ Trusts and fan groups at football clubs across the land and we liaise with politicians, the media and football authorities on a regular basis to champion issues on behalf of Charlton supporters and fans in general.
We have nearly 3,000 members, making us one of the largest Supporters' Trusts in the country. The more members we have, the stronger our voice. Annual membership costs just £5 for adults and you can sign-up here: Join CAST.
Background - Supporters' Trusts
The Supporters’ Trust movement took off after the report of the UK Government’s 1999 Football Task Force, ‘Investing in the Community’. The report recognized the increasing frequency of football clubs getting into financial difficulties which threatened their continuing existence, and the detrimental effect this could have on a local community. The umbrella organisation Supporters Direct was set up in 1990 with government funding with the aim “to secure a greater level of accountability and deliver democratic representation within football clubs”.
Supporters Direct acted as the umbrella and regulatory body for nearly 200 Supporters Trusts in the UK with the following mission statement:
“Supporters Direct will increase the influence of supporters through ownership and involvement in their clubs. We will strive to ensure that all fans have the opportunity to have maximum involvement in the ownership and running of their clubs to enhance their club’s social and cultural value.”
Supporters’ Trusts are Industrial and Provident Societies (legal entities registered in England and Wales under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act 1965) and are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They operate democratically and under rules set out by Supporters Direct in compliance with the 1965 Act.
In late 2019, Supporters Direct merged with the Football Supporters’ Federation to become the FSA (Football Supporters’ Association). CAST is now affiliated to The FSA - the national, democratic, representative body for football supporters in England and Wales, and leading advocates for supporter ownership, better fan engagement, cheaper ticket prices, the choice to stand at the match, protecting fan rights, good governance, diversity, and all types of supporter empowerment. Only democratically constituted fan groups can be accepted for Affiliate status, although other groups can join as associates and individuals can also sign-up.
- The FSA has regular contact with the Premier League, the EFL, National League, and the FA, as well as a whole host of other organisations within football such as the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).
- The FSA also works closely with organisations such as Kick It Out and Level Playing Field and has supported the establishment of scores of BAME and LGBT fans’ groups over the past few seasons.
- The FSA is a founder-member of Football Supporters Europe (FSE) who represent supporters across the continent.
- As secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Football Supporters Group, the FSA has strengthened the voice of fans within Parliament in recent years.
- FSA casework helps hundreds of fans every year who feel they’ve been poorly treated by their clubs, stewards, or police, giving those fans a voice, the best possible advice, and even legal support where necessary.
The early days of CAST
Six months after the launch of CAST (May 2013) CAFC announced in the matchday programme that:
“Charlton are to have a closer working relationship with the newly established CAS Trust. Following discussions between the two groups, the Addicks confirmed that the club intends to work collaboratively with CAS Trust in a bid to promote fan engagement”
Collaboration took the form of consultation about marketing and ticket pricing and co-operation included conducting joint supporter surveys.
In November 2013 CAST successfully achieved the granting by The Royal Borough of Greenwich of Asset of Community Value status for The Valley. This status means that CAST has the right to be informed about any proposed sale of the ground and the right to make a bid to purchase within six months of notice of sale being issued. ACV status was renewed for a further five years in 2018.
CAST also led the campaign to obtain greater transparency about the contract between West Ham United and the LLDC for The Olympic Stadium - in particular, because the favourable terms of the deal posed a threat to CAFC.
CAST under the ownership of Roland Duchâtelet
When the new owner took over in early 2014, the partnership relationship between CAST and the club was eroded with the CEO Katrien Meire deciding that all supporter groups should be afforded the same status, regardless of membership size or structure.
In February 2015, in response to the dismissal of three managers in less than a year and the circumstances around the appointment of Guy Luzon, CAST called a public meeting at Woolwich Grand Theatre which was attended by nearly 400 supporters. In the words of presiding CAST chairman Steve Clarke: “This was Charlton supporters at their best. As always, fans gave intelligent thoughtful and measured responses. There was the occasional expression of extreme views, and similarly a few who saw nothing to be concerned about. However, by far the majority of the group were clearly worried about the immediate and potentially longer-term future, sending the simple message that they wanted the Trust to engage with the Club’s senior management to express the strength of feeling and concern and seek assurances”.
For the following nine months CAST sought a meeting with Roland Duchâtelet and/or Katrien Meire to pursue dialogue, but this was not forthcoming. Eventually, in December 2015, Katrien Meire agreed that a strategy group should be set up which would include CAST. However, she then appeared to change her mind as nothing more was heard from her on the subject. We continued without success to request a meeting with Roland Duchâtelet but in April 2016 we were offered a meeting with Katrien Meire and Richard Murray.
At this point, the CAST board decided to consult its members on whether there was still a mandate for seeking dialogue. 38% of members (417) took part in a survey, the outcome of which was:
- 18% supported attending the meeting and reporting back.
- 57% supported attending the meeting and advising that the club be sold to a new owner.
- 25% supported refusing to meet.
Representatives of CAST board subsequently met Katrien Meire and Richard Murray and advised them that the majority view of CAST members was that the situation under Duchâtelet's ownership was irretrievable and that the only way for the club to regain the trust and support of fans would be under new ownership. CAST was represented within the fans’ protest group, the Coalition Against Roland Duchâtelet (CARD).
At its 2016 AGM, the English Football League (EFL) adopted a new rule requiring its member clubs to enter into a process of strategic dialogue with their supporters. This rule was the outcome of negotiation since 2014 between the EFL, The Premier League, the FA, The Dept of Culture, Media and Sport, Supporters Direct and The Football Supporters Federation. The Duchâtelet regime put forward the Fans’ Forum as their way of complying with the requirement.
CAST & Charlton Athletic under East Street Investments
Like the majority of Charlton fans, CAST applauded the takeover announcement from East Street Investments in November 2019 and hoped that the change of ownership would provide a platform for the revival of the club.
However, despite the promising words and initial positive engagement, it soon became clear that all was not right. First of all, in January, it emerged that Duchâtelet retained the assets of The Valley and the training ground within Charlton Athletic Holdings. ESI had only bought Charlton Athletic Football Company Limited – for the princely sum of £1 we later discovered.
Then in March, following an ignominious social media fall-out between the shareholders of ESI, Tahnoon Nimer and Matthew Southall, it was confirmed by the EFL that the club had actually been under a registrations embargo since early January. The source and sufficiency of funding requirement had not been satisfied in accordance with EFL regulations. In the meantime, former directors of the club instigated legal action to unwind the takeover, on the grounds that it broke the terms of their historic charge. The EFL then also launched an investigation into the takeover.
After evidence of excessive spending of CAFC funds came to light, Nimer had Southall removed from The Valley and as a director of CAFC Limited. However, Southall remained a 35% shareholder in ESI. Nimer then appointed Claudiu Florica and Marian Mihail as directors of the football club. CAST increasingly had serious concerns about the very future of Charlton Athletic, not only given the legal wrangling over control of the club and lack of security about funding, but also against the backdrop of the global pandemic. We openly aired our concerns to the media, stating that we were determined not be another Bury and at the end of May we launched the "Our Club" initiative, asking fans to sign-up to be ready should we need to step-in to save the club we love.
In June it was announced that Paul Elliott was the new owner of ESI and thus Charlton Athletic Football Club. CAST continued to seek answers from the owners and directors, especially concerning future funding and the EFL investigation. We became increasingly alarmed about the involvement of lawyer Chris Farnell and potential conflicts of interest as he had acted for Nimer, was a director of and lawyer to CAFC and also introduced Elliott, not to mention that he had been the lawyer at Bury at the time of their expulsion from the league.
On Fri 7 August, the EFL put out a statement that three people had failed their Owners & Directors Test in respect of Charlton Athletic. They did not name the individuals but we soon surmised it to be Paul Elliott, Chris Farnell and Andrei Mihail, the brother of Marian.
With the prospect of administration - or worse - now looming large, having taken appropriate professional advice, we were on the point of launching "Our Club" fundraising.
Then on 13 August news broke in the local press of Thomas Sandgaard's serious interest in acquiring Charlton Athletic.
CAST & Thomas Sandgaard
We were soon in contact with Thomas Sandgaard and kept in touch during the complicated process of him acquiring Charlton, which was formally announced on Friday 25th September.
After years of upheaval, with CAST primarily acting in opposition to or openly protesting about the club owners, we now look forward to developing a healthy and mutually beneficial partnership in line with our mission, purpose and objects.
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