On Tuesday, League One Charlton will travel to Old Trafford to play Manchester United in the Carabao Cup quarterfinal.
It is the club’s largest away crowd in more than a decade and probably their largest ever traveling contingent for a midweek cup match. Those who know the club well say this is also their biggest away crowd ever.
This is Charlton’s first semi-final appearance in a major tournament since they won the FA Cup in 1947, and the prize is huge.
It would come as a huge shock to win. Mark Stuart’s lone goal in the 1986 away victory over Manchester United gave Charlton their most recent victory. Prior to that, both of their victories at Old Trafford in the 1930s were their only ones.
Nonetheless, it ought to be an unforgettable night.
Sadly for Charlton fans, the game comes at a time when the club is experiencing even greater uncertainty.
a lack of confidence in the owner
An attempt to acquire Charlton by Manchester-based businessman Paul Elliott, who supporters believed would have put the club in jeopardy, was defeated by supporters just over two years ago.
Dane Thomas Sandgaard, a charismatic American, became the club’s owner in September 2020, promising to bring Charlton back to the Premier League within five years and regaining the trust of the fans.
It hasn’t gone as planned.
After losing 3-1 to Oxford on December 29, Charlton fell to 18th in League One. The Charlton Athletic Supporters Trust (CAS Trust) stated that the club was at its “lowest ebb in living memory” three weeks earlier when they lost 3-1 to Stockport in an FA Cup second-round replay.
Sandgaard has not provided the anticipated investment off the pitch. Clear Ocean Capital, the parent company of the club, reported a loss of £6.8 million for the ten months ending in June 2021 in October.
There are rumors that Sandgaard is attempting to sell the club.
On social media, Peter Varney, a former chief executive of Charlton, stated that Sandgaard has entered a period of exclusivity with a third party.
Charlie Methven, a former Sunderland director, has been spotted in the directors’ box at two recent Charlton games. He sat with Simon Lenagan, the son of Wigan Warriors owner Ian, who also owned Oxford United, at Portsmouth.
Additionally, Methven is listed as a director of SE7 Partners Ltd, a business that was recently listed at Companies House. Charlton’s new finance director, Ed Warrick, is also named a director. The Valley, Charlton’s property, has a postcode of SE7.
In an interview with BBC Sport prior to the Manchester United match, Sandgaard was specifically asked about the rumors: Since there are so many contradictory rumors, I would rather concentrate on the football team at this point.”
He added, however, ” I’m committed to Charlton for the long haul. That won’t affect you.
Sandgaard’s plans were put off.
The fact that former owner Roland Duchatelet still owns the Valley and the club’s Sparrows Lane training ground and is demanding £50 million to sell them both was the source of the initial controversy surrounding Charlton.
The initial goal of Sandgaard had been to take control of the entire club.
However, the coronavirus pandemic’s financial impact has resulted in more issues than he initially anticipated.
“It is not more challenging than I anticipated; He stated, “It’s just taking longer.”
“In terms of getting into the meat of it, getting into it, right in the middle of Covid, delayed the things by between a year and 18 months.
“It takes a long time.” At the club, I have primarily turned things around over the past two and a half years. The majority of that has been within. We have made a lot of changes, not just in football but also in business. We won’t be able to say that things have turned around for at least one more season.
Ben Garner’s dismissal as manager, after less than six months in charge, was one of Sandgaard’s most recent decisions. Dean Holden, Garner’s replacement, has led a mini-revival, winning consecutive games for the first time since October. This has put Charlton in 12th place, nine points away from being in the play-offs and in the relegation zone. Since 1928, Charlton have never finished in the third tier lower than 13th.
Fans of Charlton are “on high alert”
The sentiments expressed by Sandgaard will do little to alleviate the tension among Charlton supporters.
They think that costs have already been reduced, and they think that Sandgaard or a new owner would have to cut the budget for the academy or the women’s team if they tried to lower them even more.
Charlton’s academy has produced players like Ezri Konsa of Aston Villa, Karlan Grant of West Brom, and Ademola Lookman, who is currently playing for Atalanta in Italy. In the Championship, its women’s team is third.
Additionally, there is concern regarding the perception of a lack of transparency surrounding a potential sale, particularly with regard to the source and extent of funding, as well as the possibility of an attempt to realize the club’s value through some kind of “property play.”
The Charlton fans are getting ready for another battle after exerting so much effort to resist one unwelcome owner just recently.
“Scepticism and pessimism” are back on the agenda, according to the CAS Trust’s own declaration that it is “on high alert.”
Heather McKinlay, the chair of the cast, stated, “The memory of the shenanigans of 2020 is too raw for us.”
“Right now, we want to enjoy our big night out at Old Trafford, but the lack of transparency about the situation and, most importantly, the club’s future financial security really worry fans,”
In the hope of making history at Old Trafford, a large contingent of Charlton supporters will travel north. However, the directors’ box will also get a few glances.
Regardless of the outcome this week, many of those supporters think there is a much more pressing issue at play: Charlton Athletic’s future