“Today is 47 days before the start of the League One season and Charlton remain in limbo. The EFL should issue an immediate public explanation of what is happening and should take decisive action so that alternative futures for our club can be explored if necessary. That clock ticks more loudly with every passing day.”
So read a recent statement from the Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust who have been unable to obtain any information on the proposed takeover of their club from either the consortium behind it or the EFL.
Basically, the fans, the lifeblood of the game, are being denied any information on the negotiations about the future of their historic club.
When a change in control of a club is proposed EFL regulation 16 requires the club to file “up to date Future Financial Information” which demonstrates firstly that there will be sufficient money available to fund the full season and, secondly, that the money is “clean”.
The fact that the prospective new owners have failed to satisfy these requirements is why Lee Bowyer was forced to work under a transfer embargo from January onwards, and there are worrying similarities with the way that Bury owner Steve Dale consistently failed to provide the EFL with an acceptable business plan, and we all know how that one ended up.
Meanwhile, in the words of local MP Clive Efford’s letter to EFL Chairman Rick Parry, “Fans are forced to watch powerlessly from the sidelines.”
However, with Wigan relegated following their points deduction, Sheffield Wednesday being hit by a similar penalty and Mike Ashley’s unsavoury deal to sell Newcastle United to the Saudi Public Investment Fund apparently falling apart, Charlton’s are not the only fans with plenty to worry about.
The old model of rich owners bankrolling reckless spending in order to climb the ladder quicker was always flawed, but FFP and COVID-19 have revealed it for what it is, a dangerous gamble with people’s livelihoods and the very existence of clubs that are part of football’s rich history.
For every Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha there is an Au Yeung Wai Kay and with the EFL’s Fit and Proper test almost totally discredited, I wonder how many more Wigans and Burys we will see as the inevitable recession resulting from the pandemic starts to bite.
Of course, there are some City fans, and indeed contributors to this site, who dream of Delia and Michael selling up to a benevolent billionaire who will turn us it into a major force. Certainly, that’s how many Newcastle fans saw their proposed takeover, with any human rights considerations swiftly subsumed by the thought of supporting the richest club in the Premier League.
The Football Supporters Association (The FSA), to whom the Canaries Trust is affiliated, is strongly lobbying government and the football authorities for a reform of the game’s systems of governance with their head of supporter engagement and governance Ashley Brown saying:
“Following the demise of Bury football had already started to realise change was required. COVID-19 confirmed what many already knew, that the game in its current form at many levels of the pyramid was unsustainable. These crises will force football to evolve and we have the opportunity to make it stronger, fairer and more sustainable in the long term.”
The FSA have now issued guidance to supporters facing the sort of crises described above, and this can be found on their website www.thefsa.org.uk and is well worth a read.
We tend to forget how fortunate we are at Norwich. We have owners who are genuine fans, and what they may lack in deep pockets is made up for in their passion for the Club and desire to engage with fans as much as possible.
As chairman of the Canaries Trust, I regularly speak to colleagues at other clubs who are amazed at the level of access that we are afforded and the willingness of the Club to work with us and to share information.
However, complacency is a dangerous thing and there is no doubt that things can change quickly at even the best run clubs and that is why we have continued to strengthen our ties with the FSA and other trusts around the country.
Ultimately we are part of a much wider football family and while we hope that we never find ourselves in the same position as our friends at Wigan, Charlton and Bury, it is all too easy to adopt an attitude of “I’m alright Jack” rather than taking tangible steps to try to avoid such situations repeating themselves.
It is fair to say that a few years ago the Trust was somewhat insular and inward looking, but now we are actively engaged with the wider football world as well as rapidly increasing the shareholding in the Club that we hold in trust for its fans.
It is interesting to note that Charlton’s Trust added over 1000 new members last month, which is great, but it’s also sad that its only when a crisis happens that fans rush to the barricades. I think it’s vital that any club has a strong outward looking Trust because we never know for sure what the future holds.
If that makes sense to you why not join us? Membership costs just £12 pa although both life memberships and junior memberships are also available. You can find all the details at www.canariestrust.org
Sadly there will be more problems like those at Charlton. While that can’t be avoided, it is essential that the authorities are no longer able to keep fans in the dark or let them have a proper say.
If the last two months have taught the football world anything it is that football without fans isn’t an attractive proposition.
An interesting read.
Having seen the problems up here in Blackpool and the result that a so called club supporter and owner in Owen Oysten and family who like Delia saved the club from financial ruin but got complacent and thought they could do no wrong.
How quickly the supporters turned after relegation and no investment from the owners and as with the Smith’s never looked at outside investment yet it took 5 years 3 court cases to finally get a new owner.
The FA let them down and other clubs prayed that it never happened to them, the FA had an enquiry into how the club was run and found nothing wrong yet everyone and his dog could see money being taken out of the club from premiership payments under the it is owed to me mantra for loans.
Martin Samuel in his article yesterday say the government has put their trust in Parry to sort this all out yet Samuel’s is saying most of the problems he is trying to sort results from his own miss management of the EFL.
So 2 of the main parties that should be leading lights in the governance of football are run by Parry and Taylor both under pressure for bad decisions or just thinking they know best.
Sorry to say Delia could be put under the same banner with her no investment banner city really do need investment to survive long term not being handed over to a nephew with less money but no one will invest while they are in charge so city will have a long slow fall into financial ruin unless we can keep selling the family jewels or win promotion ever couple of years.
Onwards and upwards
Stay safe and stay healthy
Mr John West says
Yes, indeed OTBC 5000 per cent agree with you.
In the very interesting article it was stating supporters of clubs do not get involved, until their clubs are in crisis.
I have been a Charlton supporter on close to 60 years and thought I had seen so many crises in that time and infact in 1984 CAFC were within minutes of going out of the league and totally bankrupt but were saved.
I remember it well and I worked very near the High Court in London and it was a very anxious time indeed.
However, was also a very very proud candidate of The Wonderful Valley Party in 1990 and after 7 and a bit years helped with thousands of others getting CAFC back to our home The Valley.
Yes, remember Blackpool gracing the Premiership and they played some really exciting football indeed and not so long ago.
Other clubs Brighton, Coventry, Luton and indeed Barrow and new dawns for these clubs.
Of course there are other clubs affected too and even more so in this 2020 season and also life in general.
The EFL do not show any consistency at all and really they are not fit for purpose and look at the latest pathetic judgements and the worst one, Sheffield Wednesday the EFL was brought up last year but 2 seasons ago they deliberately and schemed and cheated all other Championship clubs in that they without doubt bought players and still playing 2 years onfor them and where did the money come from?
Yes, by falsely hiding financial figures and they knew exactly what they were doing ie CHEATING. Cheating in all of the last 2 or 3 seasons, including the current one!!!
And again it seems the so-called big clubs both in Championship and indeed the Premiership get away with it scot-free and so unfair on others playing by the rules .
I am not just stating this as a proper Charlton supporter and on reflection CAFC they deserved to be relegated and yes, a number of reasons why..
So look at those clubs who have come back from the dead and yes no one can forget Bury but they have formed another team in the non league for next season.
One further point Roland Dutchatlet bought CAFC for about 18 million and agreed to eventually sale it for a pound but negotiated a sum of 50 million for a club not worth even 25million and even less now. A pound bought Bury and Farnell was involved up there and guess where he is now?
Even more worrying he still owns The Valley and the training ground and how on earth can they all pass the fit and proper persons requirement? Oh forgot bribery.
Surely the prospective Owners should deposit 20 million to a designated bank account as advised by the EFL, surely that simple and it is obvious these crooks, who should be made accountable for have no money apart from millions in their own bank accounts.
Just hoping somehow Charlton survive but my gut feeling is that the useless EFL going to ejected from the league.
One final point and I know other clubs have had a transfer embargo but how could my club compete with the cheats of Sheff wed and Derby another team with serious issues with the EFL. CAFC of course have very serious issues with the EFL and Sheff Wed been competing THIS SEASON and before with players not likely they could afford to buy.
But amazingly CAFC did compete and had an embargo since this January.
Good luck all you supporters with corrupt Owners and it seems CAFC have potentially 3 in one season.
What a real mess indeed.
martin penney says
That gives me a totally new perspective on just how bad things can become. We’ve been deep in the mire on two or three occasions but never to the degree that CAFC are currently in.
The irony is that about 17 years ago Delia held CAFC up as a role model for how we should attempt to move forward – no disrespect but fact.
I have little time for the limited ambition of our ownership BUT there is no hint of corruption of any kind and apart from a few eejits we are all grateful for that. I am fairly certain we will always have a club to support.
As Robin says in the original article the Canaries Trust has its finger on the pulse of the Club in terms of engagement. I only joined a few years ago but I’m glad I did.
It’s always great for MFW to hear from supporters of other clubs but preferably not under these sad circumstances.
I’m sure almost every NCFC supporter would wish CAFC all the best.
Jim Davies says
Robin, I’ve gone on record in my comments on this site to say that I’m not averse to a change of ownership of our club, but I’m not convinced there’s a genuine queue of potential buyers who a) have plenty of funds available and b) are wanting to come on board for the benefit of the club. Fortunately, when a couple of less desirable candidates have cropped up in the past, the club has carried out its due diligence err, diligently, and we’ve avoided situations where we might have gone down the same route as Wigan and Bury. I’m happy to live with what we’ve got, as long as it continues in the same way.
Having said that, if the right buyer comes along (and I don’t know how you can ever be sure), I’d accept it, as long as it means I have a club to support. We’ll never be one of the top six, and “doing a Leicester” is as likely as me winning the lottery.
martin penney says
Go for #4 6 13 36 37 48. I once won sixty whole quid with that mighty combination.
I haven’t done the lottery since they put it up to £2 but still remember the numbers.
Seriously as much as I moan about the ownership I think you are quite right. The Wigan scandal is off the radar in terms of exploitation and greed. I don’t want us to go down the same road and that’s for sure.
Delia’s strategy seems to be akin to keeping a 1964 Austin 1100 on the road well into the 2030s, as in naïve but just about achievable.
But that said, at least the car is still on the road.
Jim Davies says
True, Martin, And a car that age doesn’t need an MOT! Don’t think that would exempt us from FFP rules, though, and I think a few of next seasons rivals may be sweating over them.
Chris S says
I like the fact we have genuinely engaged owners rather than a faceless billionaire who has no interest in the club except for the money, the ego-trip, and prestige it affords him. (And it usually is a ‘him’.)
The local touch is important, it has a genuine and lasting connection.
The trouble is if you want to swim in the top pool you have to swim with sharks, and there’s little fun in that. Perhaps limiting ambition is a healthier and more wholesome place to be – while retaining the chance of collecting the odd little pleasant surprise here and there along the way?
Jim Davies says
Chris, you’re not referring to “him” down the A140 are you?
Andrew Delf says
We have a club that is scandal free. Solvent. Lives within its means. Respects its supporters and community. Delivers football that at least 27000 people deem to be of sufficient quality and entertainment to invest their hard earned in on a season by season basis.
Quite remarkable in this cesspit of an industry that by and large operates with the moral scruples of an organised crime outfit.
David Bowers says
Hmmm. Are you sure?
James Maddison – Sold to club with Thai owner
Josh Murphy – Sold to club with Malaysian owner
Jacob Murphy – Sold to club with Mike Ashley
Look at who our players are connected with now:
Leeds United – Italian Owners
Wolves – Chinese Owners
Among many other foreign owned PL teams.
I’m sure that’ll stop us selling to them…
And of course let’s not forget the markets where the TV money comes from – 188 out of 193 countries. None of those are corrupt, human rights exploiters.
Yup. No unsavory or foreign money running through our club.
Jim Davies says
I don’t have a problem selling players to clubs with owners of whom some may question the probity. My problem would be selling the club to one with questionable ethics and morals. I am not for one minute suggesting that any of the clubs you listed have owners that fit that description, particularly in the case of Leicester. Foreign investment may well be welcome at some stage, but only if it comes from someone who can be shown to have the club’s best interests at heart. There have been plenty of British owners who don’t fit that description.
Robin Sainty says
Even by your usual standards this is utter nonsense. How the hell does who we sell players to reflect on the morality of our club?
Andrew Delf says
Robin, I think you misunderstood Daves attempt at witty banter.
David Bowers says
Robin, you bring up Human Rights as a point for who we’d sell to (or not).
“Of course, there are some City fans, and indeed contributors to this site, who dream of Delia and Michael selling up to a benevolent billionaire who will turn us it into a major force. Certainly, that’s how many Newcastle fans saw their proposed takeover, with any human rights considerations swiftly subsumed by the thought of supporting the richest club in the Premier League.”
It’s funny that you’re against selling the club to someone who may have questionable records in this area. However, you’re not against selling players and obtaining revenue from them. After all our business model requires us to sell to the big clubs, the ones who often are easier to be critical of.
Seems an odd double standard. A tough standard to hold when questionable money runs through ALL of football.
Again, I’d point to the Norwich Shirt and the betting money we have in our club. Betting companies being happy to ruin lives for profit.
Or what about the Chinese deal to show PL games (the largest after the UK). Our club is benefiting from a country that happily rounds up Muslims and puts them in concentration camps. Will we be returning that money?
Tim Ball says
Very interesting article Robin.
I cannot believe the EFL imposed the 12 points deduction on Wigan this season, because if the story that the “takeover” at Wigan was a smoke screen for a massive bet on them getting relegated then the EFL played straight into the gamblers hands.
Surely a better option would have been to conduct an independent inquiry into all of the on-goings regarding the Wigan situation with the proviso that if wrong doing was proven then the 12 point deduction would have been implemented next season.
This would have scuppered the plans of this Wigan owner, who knows once he realised his bet was off he may have reversed the fall into administration. I cannot believe the EFL acted this way, especially as they seemingly had evidence that this was a con job.
It would have also meant everyone went into the last night of Championship fixtures knowing the outcome of the relegation issues. Say for instance Wigan win their appeal, what happens to Barnsley ?
The prospective owners of Newcastle seemingly had links to some very worrying kind of people, but the PL seemed more worried about their alleged part in showing Premier League football illegally.
Whatever the truth months and months of delays was not fair on the Newcastle supporters, surely a quicker way has to be found to decide if someone is a fit and proper person.
I feel if whoever wants to takeover a EFL club should put in a £50 million bond (Which is controlled by an independent source) to guarantee the running of a club for a set period of time.
For the Premier League it should be a £100 million bond.
And as for EFL and PL not appreciating fans I just hope after watching Project Restart they realise how vital fans are. Lets be honest without them it has proven to be a vastly poorer product.
Derek Piercey says
I like the bond idea. It does at least afford the Club some protection against an unscrupulous buyer.
Certainly seems the EfL have made a mess of the Wigan and Sheffield Wednesday situations. If you’re going to have the 12 point deduction rule, then at least apply it evenly.
Inside Right says
While this well intentioned piece does make some valid points about the wider scale of football today, it is equally oblique to the what has to be done to remain competitive.
The have been several articles – by accident or design – since the end of the season to deflect matters away from Norwich City’s performance – and I use that word loosely – on and off the pitch. This is usually passively attacking the state of selected other clubs, to the tune of our owners are so much better and would never let that happen here.
That may well be true, but the club, some writers and fans are increasingly divorced from how modern football works and what you need to try and be successful.
Those people appear that they do not want to play ball and are suffocating in their own nostalgia.
I make no apologies for pouring cold water over this piece’s headline, but football isn’t – primarily at least – about the fans. They may watch, admire, criticise, jump around, live and breath football, but the game is not about them. Not anymore.
When the EPL was created, it was clear that the ‘typical fan’ and the money they brought to the game would not be enough. And it wasn’t. Therefore the big pot of cash that the T.V companies brought in increasing copious amounts made the game ‘different’, shall we say, and either you wanted to play or you did not.
Our majority shareholders have made clear that modern day football is not one they admire, especially with the Premier League. But that is where football is, like it or not. Their uneasy relationship with the modern game, does not benefit the club as a whole, yet this strain of thought has spread across the club and gained a worryingly large level of support.
As Martin’s excellent analogy of the Austin 1100 trying to make it to 2030, a garage owner would simply say ‘Why are you still driving this?’ as its fate is ultimately doomed. The owner dislikes modern motoring with an air of ignorant adequacy.
In a few years time, many will start writing about where it all went wrong. Had those closer to the club had starting trying to hit the nail on the head, rather than Norwich City’s perverseness of trying to become football’s ‘Jerusalem’, we might have saved ourselves a lot of time and money.
Does the club want to compete or dream of England’s green and pleasant land?
I think I already know the answer to that one.
Interesting Robin, and thank you an the Trust for a most informative on-line meeting with Ben Kensall and Stuart Webber last week.
Can you or someone please explain to me why Wigan’s points deduction was effective immediately ensuring their relegation while Sheffield Wednesday’s doesn’t take effect until next season? If Wednesday’s punishment had had the same instant effect then they too would be looking at “division 1″…..or is it one rule for a “big” club and another for a rather smaller one?
In a similar vein, will the EFL now seek further redress from Bournemouth, who received the merest tap on the wrist for driving a platoon of tanks through FFP when they were previously EFL members?
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