Cardiff-based businessman set to complete deal for Lex Dominus – and targets taking control of Charlton Athletic

BY RICHARD CAWLEY
richard@slpmedia.co.uk

Charlton Athletic’s ownership battle has a new dynamic – with Paul Elliott about to sell his shares in Lex Dominus to a Welsh businessman who is determined to take control of the South London club.

Elliott had claimed he was the rightful owner of the Addicks and that he had won his legal case at the end of last month when Tahnoon Nimer failed to provide legal documentation.

But Cardiff-based Craig Freeman – who runs a specialist dental accountants – was due to complete his deal for Lex Dominus this morning when our paper went to press.

Elliott’s company had obtained an injunction in mid-September to block the sale of ESI to any other party before the trial.

But American-based Dane Thomas Sandgaard announced his takeover shortly after that ruling – he also gained EFL approval with the governing body also lifted a transfer embargo which had been in place since the start of the year.

Freeman says he will serve the court order which gives the company full control of Charlton.

“I’m not showbiz, I’m not going to make outlandish promises about Premiership and European domination, I’m just going to bring some normality back to a great club,” said Freeman.

“I’m aware of everything that has gone on and frankly, as a football fan, it has been difficult, and somewhat embarrassing to witness.

“I have long been interested in getting involved professionally with football, it was my passion as a younger man and I’ve enjoyed playing, managing and running semi-pro clubs.

“I have been successful in my business life and I decided a few years ago that I wanted to invest in a professionally run Football League club and became aware of the opportunity at Charlton.

“I thought the opportunity had passed but, I have followed the drama, and realised there may yet be an opportunity to get involved.

“I actually approached Paul Elliott in the summer but it was clear to me the situation was less than clear, so I decided to sit back and wait for the legalities to be played out.

“The ruling that Lex Dominus actually legally owned East Street Investments since May coupled with the very clear indication that Paul Elliott could never reasonably expect to be accepted by the fans to run the club, provided me with an opportunity to move forward.

“I spoke to Paul and it was clear, he knew the fans would never accept him and, in the end, he wanted the best for the club, understood the fans had been turned against him and wanted to allow the club to move forward and knowing that, I made him an offer.

“I know the next steps are not straight forward but I’m a respected British businessman with huge respect for the laws of our country and everything will be done in a straight forward, timely fashion and with respect for the British legal system.

“We will seek to enforce the court order, notify the club, Mr Sandgaard and the English Football League.

“I will ask the club to submit my EFL OADT application, which will be straight forward, and then finally we can draw a line under this sorry mess and move forward.”

Freeman recently completed level one and two of the ASA Football Agent course.

He played amateur football with Cardiff Corinthians FC and is a motor racing fan.

Freeman has also sponsored Cardiff Devils ice hockey team.

Born and brought up in Ely, he has run his accountancy firm for nearly 20 years.

“It may seem boring, but it has enabled me to build a very successful business and provided me with the resources to invest into different fields including property and sport,” he added.

“I actually planned to launch a football agency but I decided I would rather use my business acumen to run a club, to make sense of the finances that seem to trip up so many owners.

“I’ve looked at the numbers, I understand our legal position and I’m prepared to see this through till the end.

“There is no mystery to me. I’m straight down the middle, a very safe pair of hands.

“No rock and roll or showbiz, just a sensible, well-thought through plan, that will stabilise the club and build it back up slowly without running up massive debts for unrealistic dreams.”

Sandgaard told our paper last week that he was unconcerned by Elliott’s assertion that he was the rightful owner of the League One club.

“In terms of the ownership issue, nothing has changed and there’s nothing to worry about- zero per cent,” said Sandgaard, whose appointment allowed Charlton to make 11 signings before the transfer deadline.

“From a legal point of view this transaction is watertight. I’ve worked with, and I’m still working with, some very good attorneys.

“I’m not worried at all.”


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4 thoughts on “Cardiff-based businessman set to complete deal for Lex Dominus – and targets taking control of Charlton Athletic

  • 27 November 2020 at 08:33
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    Crucial point – Elliott’s injunction stopped the sale of ESI, not Charlton. Thomas Sandgaard bought the club, not ESI, so did not break any injunction. He has saved the club and is not about ‘showbiz’ but giving Charlton a secure and successful future.

    Reply
    • 27 November 2020 at 18:04
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      I think the problem is that the injunction also prevented ESI from selling any of it’s assets until the matter was resolved by the courts. Generally assets of a negligible value can be sold by a company even whilst a court injunction is in place. This is to ensure a company can continue to operate in the interim. My understanding is that Sandgaard bought the club on the basis it was an asset of negligible value (after all it is a loss making asset). However, a counter argument could be made that whilst it was running at an operating loss, CAFC still held valuable assets (i.e. the players…think Macauley Bonne and Alfie Doughty) which in the short term could be sold at a profit whilst you tried to wind up the loss making business.

      Like all other Charlton fans I hope Sandgaard can remain in place and stabilise the club. Last thing we need is another new interested party. It sounds like Sandgaard is confident of his legal position but I don’t suppose it is straight forward. Whether we like it or not, his purchase of the club isn’t the cleanest transaction ever made. Indeed if a less well meaning individual had acquired the club through legal loopholes, we’d be furious. Elliott made a quick exit as soon as he could be paid off but it’s very hard to trust this Freeman fella. If he honestly has been following this story and thinks now is the time to attempt a takeover, he’s either not the sharpest tool in the box or is some kind of sociopath. He will not be welcome and would be advised to bury this idea rapidly. Sadly, he’s clearly now got skin in the game having paid Elliott off.

      Looks like we’re going back to the courts. Hopefully Freeman is dispensed with by the courts and we can finally put the whole saga behind us.

      Reply
  • 27 November 2020 at 11:09
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    Having first visited The Valley in 1954 I have watched the roller coaster ride of CAFC. As a Charlton supporter one is never bored or indeed complacent.
    In the finest traditions of the club nothing is straightforeward. Must admit I loved the Curbishly years. If and only if the club is stable then perhaps Lee Bowyer will be allowed to do his job. Really impressed with his management skills.

    Reply
  • 27 November 2020 at 15:09
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    The best way forward would be to Number one disband the EFL they are a waste of space they in fact cause more trouble for clubs than good and what do they actually do? Number two stop all these corrupt so called businesses/consortiums who are just mopping up clubs for gain with no interest whatsoever for the Cubs well-being or fan bases, especially when they are allowed to purchase a London club for 1pound (come on) it stinks of profit and deception make it law.
    Number three the only one who seems to have any care, consideration and has got Charlton Athletic on an even keel and wants all to do well after such a short introduction is, Thomas Sandgaard if he is removed by these parasites, I believe it will be the death-nell of this much loved football club.

    Reply

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