New Charlton owner Thomas Sandgaard in Range Rover giveaway

Charlton owner Thomas Sandgaard is calling on the EFL to strengthen its Owners and Directors’ Test in the wake of a tumultuous year at The Valley – and to highlight the need for a change in regulations, he is giving away one of the now-infamous club Range Rovers!

The fleet of seven luxury cars was bought by previous owners, East Street Investments, at a cost totalling more than £700k.

ESI paid only £1 to buy Charlton in January, with the cars soon becoming a symbol of the ownership crisis that followed.

It was the beginning of months of turmoil for Charlton off the pitch, with the £90,000 cars used by a number of individuals that claimed ownership of the Sky Bet League One club at various stages.

Sandgaard was eventually able to get EFL approval to complete his takeover in September, and by that point the situation was desperate.


“With a very limited cash flow in the club, money was still being spent on that kind of stuff and not on the club,” he told Sky Sports News.

“So what happened later in the spring and throughout the summer, a lot of great players were being sold, there was nothing left of the team.

“Lee Bowyer had nothing to work with, it was simply to be able to pay the bills and the club was clearly two days away from administration when I took it over.

“It could have disappeared from the map and never existed again after 115 years of amazing tradition and history. That was the aura of the club for nearly eight months, there was no respect for the fans, it was all about enriching the owners.”

Six of the seven cars have already been auctioned off to recoup much-needed funds, and when the final Range Rover was repossessed from former club lawyer Chris Farnell, the new owner saw an opportunity to give something back to the long-suffering fanbase.

“With one of them left I was thinking maybe we can do something for the fans here, they have been so important to me during this scenario, and they have been left high and dry and not cared about for so long. You get to win Chris Farnell’s Range Rover,” Sandgaard explained.

On the pitch, things are looking much brighter for Charlton, who are on a six-match winning run and have moved up to fourth in League One.

However, off the pitch, there remain issues to be resolved.

This week, Sandgaard’s ownership was called into question by Farnell, now acting as the solicitor on behalf of Paul Elliott, who was ready to buy Charlton’s holding company ESI earlier in the year before failing the EFL’s Owners and Directors’ Test.

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Through his company, Lex Dominus, Elliott had been fighting a legal battle to prevent ESI being sold to a third party before a court could rule on his claim.

Elliott had secured an injunction until the case could be tried on November 23. But before it could be heard, Sandgaard bought Charlton from ESI in September, leaving ESI without any assets.

“We always argued that we had a legal agreement to purchase the club and that has now been justified by the making of the court order,” Elliott said in a statement, “Mr Sandgaard has been given notice to leave the club immediately.”

On Wednesday, Sandgaard told Sky Sports News that Elliott’s legal fight is with the former owners and ESI, rather than him, and has dismissed the challenge to his ownership of Charlton.

“I have some of the best attorneys in England, and they specialize in football, so that is all watertight and has been looked at up and down before I bought the club,” he said.

“It wasn’t a cheap exercise, but I believe it was worth it, there is absolutely nothing to worry about.”

Elliott told a court that he had invested £500k into Charlton over the summer to take care of running costs, and he is one of a number of creditors that have been in touch with the club about payment.

Sandgaard says he is currently working through a number of different claims and will pay any legitimate expenses.

“It’s probably a lot less than that but we’ll get that sorted out. It’s really not anything, it’s just one of maybe 25 things that are blowing up around the club just because there’s suddenly money around now. We’ll get that sorted out and if there’s anything needs to be sent back to Farnell or Elliott we’ll obviously take care of that.”

Charlton have signed 10 new players since Sandgaard’s takeover, when an EFL registration embargo could be lifted for the first time since ESI bought the club from Roland Duchatelet back in January.

The EFL have already changed their ownership rules so that any potential new owners have to pass the OADT before they can complete a takeover, and while that’s a positive step, Sandgaard wants them to go further to protect the long-term future of their member clubs.

“You want to make sure that people are not just willing to run a football club, but have the ability to do that” he said.

“It’s not cheap to run a football club, even in League One. We’re talking about in my case losing between £10m and £20m a season here, just to keep it afloat and hopefully we get the fans back into the stadium for next season and start having more of a break-even financial scenario.

“You want to make sure that the people that get into football have the ability to run the club at the level that the club is at. There’s a minimum.

“It’s a matter of finding the right balance because it’s a free enterprise you’re talking about, so you also want to reward entrepreneurship and initiative etc etc, and not only have owners that are ultra-rich involved but people that have good financial acumen and a good financial history, showing that they know how to run something in a profitable manner rather than maybe having a history of not being financially responsible.”

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