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Sandgaard’s overseas vision

I missed tuning into Thursday’s Bromley Addicks vitual meeting with Thomas Sandgaard as I had to work, but it was interesting reading the meeting notes after no more so because of Thomas’ continual referencing of Charlton’s potential brand internationally.

Overseas fans has been a common theme of Thomas’ interaction with supporters and in set interviews. Obviously he is situated abroad himself, so not an unnatural talking point but as some commented in the CL post meeting notes I’d be a little appehensive of how far he will be able to take the ‘Charlton brand’ overseas.

Sure there is a huge and infinite thirst for English football but in my experience of living outside of the UK for almost 20 years that has never really included teams beyond the Premier League, and bluntly, even then beyond the countries largest and most famed clubs.

It is a very romantic notion that soccer fans in the United States or China will become Addicks in the future even if we are mixing it with the top 6. As an example I have a very good friend who is a lifelong Leicester City fan and has spent almost his entire working life in the States, and he knows as many US-based Foxes’ fans than I do Addicks.

Both in Chicago and Bermuda almost every single local soccer fan I’ve met supported one of Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool or Manchester City.

The only differences to this were ex-pats or 2nd and possibly 3rd generation supporters of clubs where Grandad’s and Dad’s had done a very good job of genetic brainwashing or a completely devoted student of the English game who had picked a lesser team or two to, as the American’s would say, root for.

Sponsorships, branding et al only follows with success, so with us stuck in the 3rd Division there is certainly a long road ahead to build any kind of reputation abroad. Yet there is absolutely no harm in developing a road map, and Valley Pass, or Charlton TV as it has morphed into is a cracking start.

Even though I am considered an international fan these days, although personally I don’t like that title, for me it should still be about the fundamentals of expanding the fan base out from the environs of SE7.

The world is getting smaller, well at least virtually in Covid times, and I am sure over the next decade the make-up of our support will be different, as it is from 20 years ago, but I hope we don’t lose sight of Charlton Athletic being a community club. Now a club admired abroad, and widely supported locally would be great too.

This also brings me to wishing the very best of luck to new Fan Advisor Lucy Bishop.

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. It really is difficult to get “support” overseas. Thailand has a tie in with Leicester City due to the club being owned by the King Power Group, Thailand’s largest duty free operation. Thailand appear on the shirts, which are on sale at airports and various stores in Thailand, but, despite Leicester”s title a few years ago, it’s still the big clubs, mainly Liverpool followed by Man Utd, that Thais follow.

    I have, however, had a few guests from different countries that follow Charlton for various reasons, mostly Scandinavians but also a Canadian and a man from Kazakhstan, though that was because he was best friends with Sergei Baltacha. My signed shirt on the wall attracted interest from Finns and Danes, with JJ and Claus Jensen signatures.

    It’ll certainly be hard for Thomas to expand our overseas support-base outside of existing CAFC-supporting expats.

    April 18, 2021
    • I agree with the above comments. Having been a Charlton supporter for over half a century and watching the Addicks nosedive more than I can remember, it is hard to imagine our great club embarrassing an extended fan base in the same volume as the top six have in other countries.
      Charlton has a unique and very real quality of its own and a very good following from all over many parts of the football world.
      I do think, the most important and must be before any thoughts of bringing our club up the ladder is the need to regain respectable and away from the third tear which in its self will attract more of what Sandgarrd is proposing.
      I’m pleased as are many fans that Thomas Samdgaard has the club at heart and no doubt he will achieve his dream to bring Charlton up with the big boys given time. But first and foremost the reds of old has got to be on his mind as it is on all the hard core of fans.
      Success on the pitch is the key to greatness, achieve this and who knows where it will lead too.
      I wish Sandgarrd all the success and look forward to being part once more when football returns as a spectators sport at the Valley.

      April 18, 2021
  2. William Skudder #

    We had a big following in China when we were in the Premier re our Chinese player

    April 18, 2021
  3. Oliga #

    I know what you mean but 20 years ago would Man City of been on your list ?
    Once we win the Champions league a couple of times , things will change !!

    April 18, 2021
    • That’s a good question Oliga, and I toyed with including them on my list. Would younger overseas fans been attracted to them before the Emirati royal family dropped gazillions? Agree, unlikely.

      April 18, 2021
  4. Shadow Play #

    We’ll never have the overseas fanbase of any Prem team or the likes of any of the fallen giants like say Sunderland who are slumming it in the lower leagues, but there is potential to grow it. The Valley Pass initiative allows fans to tune in from afar and it makes no difference where you are in the world – all you need is an internet connection.

    What we need to do is perhaps scout internationally and see if we can gain a rising star of Asian football. Remember when we had Zheng Zhi and the Chinese fan base we picked up overnight? in 2008 I was in Shanghai and there was a front page story about ZZ in the media and there he was wearing a Charlton top on the front page of a Chinese newspaper. Don’t ask me what the story was about but the circulation of that newspaper probably extended to several hundred thousand and was great and free advertising. These things won’t just happen because we simply don’t have the name/brand recognition – but if we have a few Asian players then we will get mentioned in the local media – the trick is to get the snowball rolling.

    April 18, 2021
  5. rierti #

    Whilst widening the fanbase internationally is laudable I wish the existing UK supporters were given full coverage of the U18s and U23s. The reporting is extremely patchy and often when our lads are playing the oppositions websites are the only source of information. As we cannot attend these fixtures during the pandemic it is more important than in normal times when the coaches are approachable and happy to give supporters relevant information when they attend matches. Full marks to TS for what he is doing for CAFC but I wish he would address this problem as many supporters I know are frustrated by poor communication on this matter.
    I have followed U18 and U23 football since the 1960s and have seen the emergence of most of the players that have gone on to wear the colours with distinction and those that got away to achieve glory elsewhere.

    April 18, 2021
  6. rierti #

    correction: I should have said that I have followed U18 and Reserve/U23s football since the 1960s

    April 18, 2021
    • rierti – I know this of deep grievance to you. Have you tried making contact with Wayne Mumford or Ged Roddy about this?

      April 19, 2021
  7. Bob Miller #

    It is very unlikely that Thomas Sandgaard envisages international exposure of the nature experienced by the top Premiership clubs.
    It is also clear that he fully values and is in the process of re-building the regional support for Charlton Athletic, with the greater emphasis on sold-out crowds and further growth throughout SE London and into Kent.
    It also would appear that he is very big on the academy, so one would expect more being done to promote the youth teams at the club.
    I think that his most recent move of bolstering support for the women’s team is further proof of his greater vision for the club.
    Having said that, at this point, there is enough ex-pat Charlton support throughout the world to generate a fair amount of incremental revenue, heretofore not really tapped or encouraged by the previous regimes.
    Even if those numbers were to be a modest 1000 or so (which is not a stretch by any means), if each spent money on annual Valley Pass packages, merchandise from the Superstore, plus periodic visits to the Valley for matches, you are looking at additional seven figure revenues, which is definitely worth cultivating.
    Now that is at the current League One level. If Thomas’s longer range plan works and the club does indeed return to the Premiership, then it is an entirely new kettle of fish.
    Back when Charlton got promoted to the Premiership, with the backing of one Ian Cartwright, former director of marketing with CAFC, I started a supporters’ club in Hamilton, ON (Charlton’s first overseas group).
    At the time, there were two of us who actually had a clue who Charlton Athletic was. We managed to get a group together of 25-30, all of whom, to the best of my knowledge, continue to follow the fortunes and misfortunes of the club. Multiply that by all the Addicks around the world and it is not out of the question to develop and establish a significant overseas fan base that would bring in generous amounts of money to the club’s coffers.
    As has been stated elsewhere on this page, at the Premiership level, the signing of star players from various countries, automatically creates a new supporter base (China!), which is further amplified by the world-wide television coverage which is provided.
    Most of the international support support now in place is from life-long supporting ex-pats and the remnants of those who were on board from the glory years of the Premiership (such as me!)
    That is where the regeneration and the encouragement of accompanying and new support can take place.
    So, Mr. Sandgaard, even at the League One or Championship level, keep working at developing an international following, it is simply good business and will pay off!

    April 18, 2021
  8. Terry Lloyd #

    Living in Calgary, Canada I agree with much of what you write. Of course being in a higher league and the T.V. coverage that goes with that will help greatly but also exposure of the name through the sale of promotional items through sporting outlets or “patriotic” British stores as is common in North America. Certainly a long term project which Thomas Sandgaard is very familiar with as an American businessman.

    April 18, 2021
  9. Clement Cooper #

    I live in Australia and have been a Charlton fan since around 1950,as my brother in New Zealand,we were both born in Belvedere and went to every Charlton game,until we both migrated in 1957,I can still remember a lot of the team,never forget your roots,and Charlton will get up into the premiership in the years ahead under good management and coaching,GO CHARLTON.

    April 18, 2021
  10. Richard #

    Timely naming of the big 6 there CA.

    April 18, 2021
    • Thanks Richard. I didn’t realize this was a secret until last night 🙂

      April 19, 2021

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