BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Matt Southall has released a statement after Tahnoon Nimer used social media to confirm he had pulled out of backing Charlton Athletic.
The Syrian businessman made a number of serious allegations aimed at the Addicks’ executive chairman this evening and told a fan: “I’m out of this.”
Southall, who is executive chairman, responded late tonight.
He said: “I want to let Charlton fans know and understand what is happening before rumours and speculation run completely out of control.
“On Monday, Tahnoon Nimer sent an incredibly damaging letter on behalf of Panorama Magic General Contracting LLC to members of the club’s senior management team. In the letter, he made allegations about me and my conduct, which my lawyers immediately rebutted.
“It has been brought to my attention that he has repeated and, indeed, expanded upon the malicious falsehoods made in the initial letter. As a consequence, I will now be meeting with my lawyers to discuss an action for defamation. However, my immediate priority is to protect the club and its staff from these damaging statements.
“Also contained in that letter were claims he had appointed a chief executive officer, an action that I am advised by the club’s lawyers would be outside the parameters of Panorama’s influence. Even more worryingly, the letter also threatened members of the senior management team with legal action if they did not comply with his demands. This is completely unacceptable and detrimental to the morale of such a loyal and dedicated staff and the smooth running of the football club.
“One of the claims in the letter was that ‘disadvantageous contracts’ had been authorised by me. I can only conclude that the majority shareholder disagreed with my decision to give Lee Bowyer a new contract on the terms agreed as that is the only major contract signed in my time as executive chairman.
“For the avoidance of doubt, both Jonathan Heller and I have passed the EFL’s owners and directors’ test. However, the majority shareholder has yet to satisfy the EFL in respect of the source of his funds, despite numerous requests made by the EFL and a number of deadlines that have been ignored by him.
“This failure obviously limited our ability to deal in the transfer window although I liaised closely with the EFL and made sure they were aware of every deal we were planning so that they could be sanctioned appropriately. I continue to be in close contact with the EFL, who are also aware of the dispute between me and the majority shareholder.
“It is a crucial time of the season and it would seem appropriate that all the stakeholders direct their efforts in support of the team and the club. Therefore, it is disappointing that the majority shareholder should act in such a manner and be attempting to purchase Dinamo Bucharest to the point where he posted a picture of himself in Romania during Saturday’s fixture.
“The board and the senior management team are determined that Charlton Athletic be run in a sensible, responsible and sustainable manner but this is being made very difficult by the majority shareholder’s actions and his failure to provide either the necessary satisfaction to the EFL or the funds that he has consistently promised to invest. To date, not a single penny of the promised funds has been provided.
“The board will continue to make decisions in the best interests of club its fans, its players and its staff with the full support of the dedicated and loyal senior management team.
“We look forward to a successful conclusion to the season.”
Nimer, Southall and Jonathan Heller were the three directors on the board when ESI announced they were in control of the club at the start of January.
ESI said they have a “legal obligation” to buy the freehold of The Valley and also the freehold of the training ground within six months – which means this summer.
Nimer attended one match – the 2-1 victory over Barnsley at the start of February.
Charlton’s only incoming deals in the January transfer window were loan signings – three of them arriving just before the deadline.
And they were essentially like-for-like replacements of temporary deals that were ended as Jonathan Leko and Beram Kayal were both injured and Chelsea recalled Conor Gallagher, sending the England U21 international out again on loan but this time to Swansea.
The South London Press had contacted the EFL when ESI announced they were running the football club, but a spokesman said it was not their policy to discuss individual clubs – and that they would leave the parties involved to impart information.
PICTURES BY PAUL EDWARDS
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