It’s hardly surprising that our latest ‘change of ownership’ has prompted a somewhat muted response from most Addicks. We can’t exactly go around hailing the dawn of a new era when we have no idea if Paul Elliott and his consortium is in it for the long haul (and if so on what basis and with what objectives), if he’s someone taking advantage of an opportunity for a quick purchase and resale (perhaps or perhaps not involving the Varney/Barclay combination), or indeed if he’s part of some daft plot involving Nimer aimed at screwing Southall (and if that’s the case you can bet your house that it will end up in court, along with the possible reversal of the sale of our club to ESI via the claims of the former directors).
I’m not ITK on any of these fronts, have no idea who Elliott is. It’s too early for Companies House to have published the presumed filing for the change of ownership of ESI. And the statement on the club site published yesterday quite frankly raised more questions than answers. Here is apparently a new owner, our next chairman, someone with no known background in football, with the opportunity to outline to major stakeholders (ie the fans) why he has got involved etc (and a little reassurance from a property developer that his plans do not involve a move away from The Valley would not have gone amiss).
Instead we get “I will be looking to ensure the stability of the club moving forward so we can look to put behind us the recent boardroom events and concentrate on building a unified boardroom and a unified football club”. Fine as far as it goes, but come on. Anyone can build a ‘unified boardroom’ if you own the company and if Donald Duck was in charge there would be more chance of a unified club than under Duchatelet. Understandably it was added that “our immediate focus will be on getting behind the team and the Manager and giving ourselves the best opportunity of staying in the Championship”. Other than presumably providing a guarantee that wages will be paid and the prospect that for a little while the focus of attention will switch away from a boardroom farce it’s hard to see just what that might involve, especially as we await the EFL’s verdict on what went on before.
Have Nimer and Southall definitely left the scene? Obviously we hope so. Personally I find it hard to believe that Nimer would have walked away with no cash, taking a £1 offer for the club. That 35% of whatever sum was paid would end up in Southall’s pocket is, I think, unavoidable. There are laws to protect the interests of minority shareholders, for obvious reasons, and if Nimer was dumb enough to have given Southall a stake in ESI more fool him. Live with the consequences. I also find it hard to believe that Southall will have written off any outstanding invoices he has submitted to the club for his so valuable services and his such precious time. So perhaps the new owners, if they stay long enough, will still have some dealings with him.
If Southall’s swansong was his absurb threatening of the Trust, including his pompous comment about his having made time in his “incredibly busy schedule” (I’m assuming that schedule is rather less busy now, until he finds some other scam), Nimer also leaves us with a laugh. “I have made the difficult decision, having received advise, and listening to fans wishes …” He didn’t exactly listen to the wishes of the fans in January (‘Dear Nimer, please inject a bucketload of cash for some players instead of dicking around’) but apparently is listening now. Well that’s good, because no doubt plenty of Addicks are expressing their wishes now as regards what Nimer might do next. Please continue to follow their wishes.
And perhaps the best news yesterday was the report that Duchatelet is apparently “furious” with what has happened. Good, he is largely responsible for the current state of affairs and we deserve some payback. The heart of the problem is the daft price that Duchatelet has been asking for our club. A series of what seemed like serious potential buyers were put off, leaving only chancers who saw an opportunity to make some money. Duchatelet has ended up dealing with such ‘investors’ because of his own stupidity (we know he doesn’t like rules but the first one for investment is when you are considering whether or not to put more money into a venture you own you pay no regard to what has gone in to date). And I can’t buy into the notion that he would be able to ‘force’ our new owners to buy The Valley and the training ground. If I understood the ESI deal correctly, ESI has an option to buy at an agreed price; and you cannot compel someone/something to take up an option. If Duchatelet ends up having to renegotiate the price, he would be stupid not to.