BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlton Athletic’s director of football Steve Gallen has made it clear that Thomas Sandgaard was ready to splash out on a striker in the last transfer window.
And the Addicks supremo says a deal was in place for Midtjylland’s Ronnie Schwartz, only for the Dane to opt against a move to SE7.
“I know some of our fans have said: ‘Thomas Sandgaard hasn’t even spent any money [on fees]’,” Gallen told the South London Press. “He was trying to buy Ronnie Schwartz.
“We agreed a fee with Midtjylland. Everything was done. It would have been a big fee – by far the biggest we’ve ever spent. We bought Macauley Bonne for £200,000 – this was going to be a lot more than that. Fair play to Thomas for supporting us on that.
“The deadline for the international transfer window was 11pm and at 10.15pm I found out everything was done – medical and papers – and he [Schwartz] chose not to come. It’s his choice.
“The next [domestic] transfer deadline was two weeks or 10 days after that. You can’t really buy anybody – because I never felt there was somebody out there in League One or League Two to buy who was definitely going to come in, improve us and accept whatever wages it was going to be.
“It was our choice to go down the route of loans and free transfers. I knew that Paul Smyth was a good player. I knew getting him was really going to benefit us. QPR have done us a huge favour on that – they deserve unbelievable credit from Charlton. They’ve practically given us Paul for nothing.”
Gallen says the only two other misses – both when the Addicks were working under a transfer embargo and before Sandgaard’s takeover in September – were Jonson Clarke-Harris and Arsenal youngster Tyreece John-Jules.
Peterborough landed Clarke-Harris while John-Jules went on loan to Doncaster – his only goal so far coming in Rovers’ 3-1 victory at The Valley.
“At an early stage when we didn’t know we were under total embargo we were looking at strikers to go and buy,” said Gallen.
“I don’t think it’s disrespectful to mention about Clarke-Harris. He was someone we were very keen on.
“We didn’t know we were under a total embargo and I was given permission to look into signing him, so we did.
“We spoke to Bristol Rovers and the player’s agent, once we had permission. Then we found out we couldn’t sign someone for £100, let alone £600,000 – or whatever it was for him at the time. You’d like someone like that in your camp because he’s a good player.
“The Arsenal lad, Reece John-Jules, was someone we wanted to sign. But at that stage we had £1,300 [a week] to spend.
“And I think Arsenal probably looked at the stuff behind the scenes at our club – to the outside it is in disarray and the fans are talking about we could be days away from administration and being kicked out of the league. They could’ve been right but internally you don’t always know those things; you go tunnel vision and focus on convincing Arsenal to send their player to us because we’re going to make them a better player – like we did with Conor Gallagher, Jay Dasilva and Josh Cullen.
“I think Arsenal felt we weren’t in the right position at that time, and they were probably right.”
Sandgaard announced he had acquired the Addicks on September 25. They went on to make 11 signings – Ben Watson putting pen to paper the same day as the Dan’s takeover.
“What Thomas has done in particular from the outside is give us stability,” said Gallen. “An agent might have been advising a player ‘don’t go to Charlton, you might not get paid in two months’. Now the outside world sees us as a stable club again.
“I hope I’ve earned his trust. Thomas didn’t know me from Adam. He might have wanted to bring in his own men and that happens a lot in football, I understand that.
“He’s allowed me to get on with it but I’ve gone to him on every player and said: ‘I think I can do this deal, in this range and do you approve?’”
Sandgaard has talked about taking Charlton to the Premier League. Gallen chuckles when asked if it is achievable.
“I don’t know if it is or it isn’t – I can’t predict the future. But I want to get promoted. So does Lee [Bowyer].
“You’ve got to aim for something. Thomas wants to get in the Premier League – brilliant. I love that.
“First things first we’ve got to try and get promoted.
“This stage last year we were going great in the Championship and then we had all those injuries. We’ve had them again and been able to cover them until this break from the league.”
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