BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Dillon Phillips has spoken to the South London Press about leaving Charlton Athletic – and admits there could have been a different outcome if the club’s ownership issues had been resolved sooner.
The 25-year-old signed for Cardiff City on Friday.
Phillips was the Addicks’ Player of the Year in the 2019-20 campaign but had been dropped out of the first-team picture by manager Lee Bowyer after declining to extend his stay.
Phillips had been due to be a free agent in June 2021, with Charlton recouping no money if he had run his deal down.
The stopper says there was only one real contract offer made in February – when the SE7 outfit were under a transfer embargo due to East Street Investments not getting their takeover approved by the EFL.
“Obviously it wasn’t the best of ways to finish my time at the club – I enjoyed 17 years there,” said Phillips. “I know it is a cliche but I’ve literally loved every minute of it. It has been a home for me and my family who have been coming to watch the games – especially those two seasons when I was established as the number one there.
“We had a chat as soon as we came back for pre-season and Bows said: ‘What do you want to do?’. I said I wanted to play as high as I can, like anyone.
“If we’d have stayed in the division [Championship] would I have wanted to stay and crack on? Probably. But for my own career I had to take the challenge at Cardiff. It’s a great opportunity at a great club. I know I’m not expected to walk in and play – I might have to bide my time. I’m excited about that and looking forward to working with the good coaches they have here.
“I can see the size of this club, walking around the training ground it is excellent – it shows where I feel Charlton could be. They could be in that position – easily. They have got all the foundations to be a big Championship club, but things have gone on behind the scenes in the last few years that have not helped that at all.
“Part of me does feel sad for the club. I’m coming across as a bit of a fan but it is the perfect location for a big football club and they are hopefully now slowly going to get back there.”
Danish businessman Thomas Sandgaard, a US citizen and based in Colorado, took control of Charlton at the end of September.
Prior to that they were under a hard transfer embargo from April which prevented them offering wages of more than £1,300 a week to players.
But even after coming under new ownership, League One clubs can only spent £2.5million every season on their wage bill – averaging out at £2,500 a week per player.
“If the takeover had happened a bit earlier than maybe things would be different in terms of the contract for me,” said Phillips. “There was one offer last season in February and at the time the club was a real mess. No-one knew if they were getting paid.
“I think people can understand why I didn’t take the contract up at the time and since that offer there hasn’t been one put to me because the club was under a transfer embargo.
“Everyone knows that the manager made it clear recently that they could only offer a certain amount a week now with the [League One] wage cap. Once the season started Bows made it clear I wasn’t really in his plans and I had to go. There is no coming back from that really.
“Both parties understood it was time for me to move on. The club was under an embargo and then a wage cap. There was never an offer really put to me [after February] because both parties understood it was time for me to move on. It wasn’t so much a case of me not signing – more what was right.
“The club wanted me out, they wanted me out to bring someone else in [using his salary to add to their squad].
“I 100 per cent would’ve been happy to play if they had asked me. I said to him [Bowyer] that if there is interest and the club want me to go and need me to go – I was open to it. I want to push myself on to the Championship. A few doors shut early on in the window.
“But for as long as I’m here I want to play and give 100 per cent for the shirt. I think they knew I would do that
“They made the decision to go with Ben [Amos] and he was doing really well. Good luck to Ben and Ashley [Maynard-Brewer]. Ben has been waiting patiently for that chance, just like I had to wait patiently when he was here a couple of years ago. It’s fair.”
Phillips was not set to be named in Charlton’s 23-man squad if he had not moved before last week’s deadline.
“The frustrating thing was not knowing if I would get out,” he said. “I thought I could be sitting there until January at least and not playing. So as soon as Cardiff came in I had to go and push and make sure it happened. It just felt like my time was done and the club had moved on from me.
“I wanted to be able to walk away with my head held high. I’m thankful for the opportunity and I said that to Bow, [Steve] Gallen [director of football] and Marshy [Andy Marshall, goalkeeper coach] when I left the club.
“I do wish Charlton all the best. They will have a big place in my heart for the rest of my life.
“If a club wants to succeed they need to get their youngsters or assets tied down. Hopefully now with Thomas in charge he will do that and keep those youngsters for longer and get the best out of them – and if they do go the club get the right amount of money for them.
“The club are always going to bring players through because they have got great people lower down bringing them through all the time.”
See our website later in the week for more from Phillips.
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