Last month Charlton Athletic and a group of investors linked to The Australian Football Consortium released a statement to update fans on the club’s takeover.
Since then two separate representatives of the Fans’ Forum have written to the club to request a meeting to discuss follow-up questions.
Yesterday Lieven De Turck (LDT), who is representing the club in takeover talks, met members of the Fans’ Forum to answer their questions.
Below is a summary of what was discussed:
LDT explained he is representing the club in takeover talks. He said he is not a permanent CFO or CEO and he is in the UK from Tuesdays to Thursdays. He said he does have a background in finance so he helps out the financial team when they need it but his primary focus is the takeover of the club.
The current situation
- There were several parties interested when LDT first took over the process (January) but only two reached agreement on price. The Australians, and another consortium who can’t be named at this stage because of a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), have agreed a price. Other parties who expressed an initial interest did not pursue their interest. Some of the parties dropped out immediately as the running costs were too much, but the two parties currently involved continued
- Reasons for previous delays in the process have been due diligence on matters such as historical loans, securities and debentures
- The club is satisfied the Australians have the money to purchase the club
- The Australians haven’t been granted exclusivity. It is possible the other party could still purchase the club but they still have certain issues of their own to resolve. The club can’t go in to more detail on these issues because of the NDA
- The sale agreed with the Australians does not include Staprix retaining The Valley or Sparrows Lane. There are no issues with regard to former director's loans. LDT was not aware of any issue with HMRC.
- The only issue holding up the process is EFL approval.
The process with the EFL
- As part of the regulations the Australians need to lodge a series of documents with the EFL before they get formal approval. The documents prove financials, include a director’s test etc.
- Around one month ago, the first document was lodged with the EFL but not all required documents have yet been submitted to the EFL. There are one or two still outstanding. There has been no need for anything to be resubmitted
- LDT said he could not give any further information about the documents that were missing
- LDT said he thought that the Australian consortium is a complex set up and may be seeking to reduce its complexity
- The documents have to be lodged by someone at the club or with the club copied in. The Australians have been sending their documents to the EFL with LDT copied in
- The club can’t put a timeline on it but they hope that the documents can be lodged very, very soon
- The Australians have people in place in the UK at the moment
On the impact on the first team
- The current owner has started preparation for the new season and Lee Bowyer has targeted promotion
- Lee Bowyer has had a meeting with the potential new owners
- While Lee Bowyer knows what he can spend for every deal though he gets approval. He is working with Steve Gallen and Roland Duchatelet
On potential player sales
- There is an agreed mechanism in place in the contract with the Australian consortium to cover any player sales.
On season ticket sales
- Season ticket money isn’t coming directly into the club. The bank who have taken the credit cards payments will only release it game-by-game to cover themselves should the club not be able to play a game. This is not something LDT has experienced previously
On being cost conscious
- As part of the club being more cost conscious they are reviewing contracts and negotiating with suppliers. An example of being more cost conscious is in the last month the energy bill reduced by more than 11% compared to last year. This is all to make running costs bearable for the current owner and also any potential new owner
- A fan asked if it was true academy players breakfasts had been cut, he said this went against what the club stood for and could be a PR mistake and goes against the club filling its role in the community. LDT said the breakfasts had been cut as part of the club being more cost conscious but that it was something he would look into following the meeting
The meeting was attended by representatives of Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust, City Addicks, Maidstone and the Weald Supporters Group, Bromley Addicks, the Reminiscence Group and Valley Gold.
The meeting was also attended by Charlton Athletic Head of Communications Tom Rubashow.
The above notes were produced by the club and approved by a fan representative from the meeting.