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What is happening in the boardroom?

I’ve sat on this for a few days now, as like other Addicks I search around in the dark for clues. The euphoria of winning, sorry walking the League One title after many years of hurt, is suddenly becoming a distant statistic as once again the team we love enters into the murky world of boardroom mistrust and rumour.

For those of you that don’t follow Charlton Life, their forum is awash with scaremongering and unanswered questions. Yet amongst the thousands of comments a couple stand out. Three or four posters, each one I recognise as having some good connections within the club have sources they say, each one different, that suggest that all is not well behind the scenes.

The main source of rumour is that we offered a deal to a potential new signing (I believe a current Premiership player) but then we reneged on the deal. Others suggest that all is not well in the boardroom, with potentially Slater and Jimenez wanting the club to go in different directions and an unknown backer pulling out his investment.

Since these rumours broke we have seen Peter Varney and Alex Newall resign from the board. While Peter leaving was a red flag, more surprising was the departure of Alex Newall. Newall only joined the club in February and was announced as a beneficial owner.

I was confused to what this meant at the time. Newall’s company Hanover Private Office has strong business links with Tony Jimenez, Michael Slater and one Kevin Cash. I suggested that Newall was only on the CAFC board to protect his client’s assets, which is pretty much what him and his company do.

Rumours suggest that we have lost one of our unknown backers, it may not have been Cash, no one knows if he is involved anyway, but that would explain why Newall after just 4 months has gone.

I didn’t expect us to go out and sign 10 players before pre-season training started but after the success of last season’s recruitment plan, I would’ve thought that Powell would have been encouraged to go and get a couple in by now, perhaps a marquee signing to carry the momentum through the summer and stimulate more season ticket sales.

There have been many rumours of players that Powell has interest in, some substantiated with stories of money offers. However despite placating ourselves with the fact that contracts don’t expire until June 30th, the Euro’s, summer holidays etc, the real issue now, if not a cash issue, is a budgetary issue. Quite an alarming one at that.

Further stories floating around are Tony Jimenez’s renewed efforts to bring in either new backers or additonal ones from the Middle East. Remember Jimenez was involved in brokering the deal with Zabeel Investments in 2008.

All this amongst the backdrop of some investment being made by the club in recent days. Johnnie Jackson signed a new and improved contract and the club further added to it’s academy staff by employing Nathan Jones, Sergei Baltacha and ex-Leeds centre-half Chris Fairclough as the club moves towards it’s category two status at a cost I believe of over £1m.

Then we have Martin Prothero, Varney’s replacement, who I would be pretty sure is more expensive. Prothero is very respected in the game and from an outsiders point of view has given up a very good job at Umbro to join the Charlton’s board.

I think these latest whispers are further realisation that the board is very different now to what is was under Murray’s control. Murray and his various partners made plenty of mistakes but no one could question their genuineness or their absolute wish to do whatever was best for the football club and it’s fans.

As fans a lot of us felt we had good access to the previous regime and some of us had built an element of rapport with some of the decision makers. Slater and Jimenez operate very differently despite Slater’s concerted effort to engage with fans.

This morning it emerges, although yet confirmed, mind you nothing at all apart from this “planned boardroom restructure” has come from the club, anyway another well connected individual is suggesting that some fresh investment has entered the club which has to be positive.

Where does all this leave us? Who knows, but we didn’t know much before. Personally I was always under the impression that the new owners were planning for us to grow organically, investing in an academy to provide a conveyor belt of young talent blended with the strategic purchases of young, hungry players. Then if the owners felt the need to offload a young saleable asset, then they would and hopefully the manager would get the majority of those funds to re-invest in his playing squad.

Sadly a worthy long-term ownership plan looks to be undermined by some short-term investment and/or investors. Keep calm and carry on.

5 Comments Post a comment
  1. Hungry Ted #

    Good piece, CA. I don’t know what to make of it all, but I’m trying to stay positive. It would be a real shame if the feel-good factor created so wonderfully last season is lost amidst rumours and scaremongering.

    We live in hope.

    July 3, 2012
  2. Matthew #

    agree with above, until we know for sure, there’s little we can do – and maybe after we know, still not much to be done. Look at Coventry – no dialogue between board and fans and dropping thru the leagues with no investment. we at least have seen investment in the last 12 months and have a side that is capable of competing at this level – would be good to move on to next level, but if we consolidate here for a year or two, no problems…

    I’m more confident however that Slater and Jiminez know people and it’s easier to sell a successful entity (or a stake in that entity – if indeed we have recently lost a cashed up owner) than it is to sell a club like Coventry… with all their associated debts. the guy we get from Umbro, if more experienced/expensive is probably looking for a successful challenge not a relegation/administration (sorry to mention the A word), so all in all, no reason to worry yet, although would be good to have some news and all the best to Mr Varney in his next venture.

    July 4, 2012
  3. Floyd #

    CA – what surprises me is the fans confidence in the new regime at SE7. Fair enough they have a pretty good first year report, BUT if we ask some South London wideboys and property developers to run our erstwhile club is it any surprise that after a year and a half they start to show their true colours.

    We know Slater sails close to the wind, we know TJ has a pedigree of failed businesses and harbours ambitions to play champioship manager,we know that nearly everyone involved buys and sells property.

    So we have some jack the lad wheeler dealers running the show. It is only reasonable that they begin to act as such. They will fall out with each other, there will be loose ends.

    ALL I hope is that between them they have enough nous to ensure they don’t jeopardise the investment that one of them (unknown – after all the ones we do know have not got the sort of finance necessary and I include TJ in that) has made. After all their investment is our lifeblood.

    July 4, 2012
  4. confidential rick #

    Thank you Floyd for putting into words what many of us thought privately but were afraid to voice out loud.
    Let’s just hope boardroom shenanigans don’t torpedo all the recent good work.

    July 4, 2012
  5. Agreed Rick. Floyd is of course right. I have always had great concerns that each one of the owners, know or otherwise has property investment at the centre of their ‘riches.’ For a couple of reasons actually, but mostly because of the instability of it.

    July 4, 2012

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