BY LOUIS MENDEZ
Thomas Sandgaard remains in pole position to take over the reins at Charlton Athletic – with a Turkish consortium who were also interested now out of the running.
Charlton director Marian Mihail disclosed that the club were in “advanced due diligence processes” with both Sandgaard and an “Istanbul-based investment fund” at the end of August.
The South London Press can now reveal that the Turkish bid was led by Ural Akuzum, a businessman, lawyer and academic who spent nearly 10 years on the board of Turkish footballing giants Galatasaray.
Akuzum, a shareholder at Dutch Eredivisie side Fortuna Sittard, has withdrawn his interest in the last few days due to an inability to reach agreements with Panorama Magic for the club and former owner Roland Duchatelet for The Valley and the training ground at Sparrows Lane in New Eltham.
Speaking on his behalf, advisor Okan Can Tufekci explained that Akuzum set his sights on SE7 after conducting research into a number of EFL clubs.
Tufekci said: “We were thinking about if we can have a deal in a club in the Championship or League One and I shared this with Mr. Akuzum. He gave a positive opinion and authorised me to manage the whole process on his behalf.
“We researched clubs in the Championship and League One. Sunderland was one of them, as well as Wigan Athletic, but we didn’t contact with them.
“We preferred Charlton because it has a great location in the UK. London is a great location. The club has strong history, it’s a very good club with passionate fans. We saw they made a protest at The Valley stadium. The fans made a huge impact as to why we chose Charlton.”
Tufekci, who revealed that academic Semih Altintas and senior law student Furkan Unal were also part of the organisation hoping to take over at The Valley, said that Akuzum had hoped to buy both the club and the stadium and build towards a prosperous future for the Addicks.
“[Owning the stadium] was our plan because the properties were very important,” he added.
“If the property owner and the majority shareholder were different people it would be a huge problem – currently Charlton have this problem. The properties with Duchatelet and the club with Tahnoon Nimer. We wanted to take the club and build on the club’s potential but unfortunately, we couldn’t reach an agreement.
“After examining the financial and legal documents they shared with us, we prepared the necessary reports, and in the light of these, we sent our proposal regarding competing rights and goods to the club and started to wait as a result of our negotiations with Marian Mihail.
“We made them an offer. Then we started to wait. After that, as you know, there was a lot of problems in the UK. I was following them. There was a lawyer, who I believe, saved the club’s future, Lauren Kreamer. I want to congratulate her because I think she did an amazing job for the club’s future.
“After that, two or three days ago Marian Mihail sent us an email and he told us that Panorama Magic doesn’t want to continue in negotiation with us, they will continue with another company. We said that’s OK, best of luck. We tried a lot with Tahnoon’s side and with Roland Duchatelet’s side.
“Our plans were to make Charlton a huge brand in English football. Charlton have got really huge potential. I believe they have a great future. But it’s in the wrong hands right now. ESI or something like that, I guess they are the wrong hands and I think fans will agree with me.
“We had contact with Marian Mihail. We also called Lieven de Turck for Roland Duchatelet and the properties. But with both sides we couldn’t reach an agreement. I guess maybe our offer was not good enough for both of them.
“We had a 10-year project. First of all, to reach the Premier League. And then reach the Europa League, that was our plan.”
Tufekci said he had never contacted any of the other players in the Charlton ownership saga, such as Paul Elliott, Chris Farnell or Sandgaard, but he said he recognised the latter’s love for football and hoped he will improve the club if a sale does go through.
He said: “Me and my colleagues are very passionate about football and we wanted to save this club. We want this club to reach the Premier League again. I have no idea about Thomas Sandgaard personally, I don’t know him and I guess he doesn’t know about us.
“But I thought in the social media he’s got really passionate about football and about Charlton. I hope he gets a deal and Charlton will reach a brighter future because this club and the fans deserve a better future.”
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