Charlton AthleticSport

Global Football Partners spokesman expecting talks with Duchatelet over Valley and Sparrows Lane rental agreement

Global Football Partners spokesman Charlie Methven is expecting there to be talks over the rental arrangement for The Valley and Sparrows Lane training ground.

GFP completed their takeover of Charlton Athletic a week ago but the freeholds for both sites are owned by Roland Duchatelet.

The Belgian businessman retained them when he allowed the club to pass over to East Street Investments.

Thomas Sandgaard agreed a new lease arrangement which costs a yearly rental fee of £500,000. The 15-year term ends in January 2035.

Charlton were forced to leave their stadium in 1985 and groundshared with Crystal Palace and West Ham United before a protracted battle to return home was realised in December 1992.

Methven, who is a shareholder in GFP, told the South London Press: “I had huge admiration and respect for the work that was done – what an extraordinary achievement and extraordinary journey.

“The result of that, and the troubling period before that, is there is a very strong emotional attachment – totally understandable – placed by Charlton fans on ownership of The Valley.

“That said, the reality is that there is a strong commercial lease in place with a long time to run. There are many very successful football clubs who rent their stadium.  Of course, one would rather own that asset instead of renting it, but it is not some pre-condition to success.

“Whether it be Manchester City, West Ham or the Milan clubs, you are looking at some of the most successful clubs in Europe in recent years and they are not the freehold owners of their stadiums.”

Manchester City Council own the Etihad Stadium. City have a 250-year lease and pay £3m per annum.

West Ham United signed a 99-year lease on the Olympic Stadium, which is owned by E20 Stadium LLP, a London Legacy Development Corporation.

“Thomas Sandgaard and Roland Duchatelet have come to a very equitable arrangement, which we inherit,” said Methven.

“Do I think there will be discussions with the landlord, over a period of time, about what the future relationship looks like? Sure, I do. That would be absolutely correct and professional.

“What would not be professional would be to try and second guess what either the objectives or outcomes of those conversations will be.

“We have to respect the fact there is a landlord and ultimately it is the landlord’s decision as to what he does with his assets.

“Our finance director Ed Warrick comes from a property finance background, that’s his professional expertise.

“I’m sure he will want to have conversations with the landlord over the coming months and years which will roll out as they roll out.

“It is eminently possible to achieve success under the current stadium arrangements.”

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