Charlton AthleticSport

Thomas Sandgaard wants Charlton’s academy players to make seamless transition to senior set up + claims Charlton TV softening financial blow of no fans

Ged Roddy is working with Charlton Athletic’s academy staff to ensure the club’s young players find the step up to the first-team squad a more seamless transition.

The former Reading academy manager, also previously director of football development at the Premier League, was appointed the Addicks’ technical director in October and has a wider remit to look after the footballing side of the SE7 outfit.

And Charlton supremo Thomas Sandgaard says one of Roddy’s key roles is to improve the chances of prospects adapting quickly to the senior set-up, writes Richard Cawley.

“I’ve come to know a little more about English football and you see some familiar names – like Neil Warnock and other people in the industry – who talk about playing men’s football,” said Sandgaard. “They seem to be a little too protected in that [academy] environment. Maybe it is one of the reasons Brentford decided to scrap the academy – to go with the B-team type scenario that plays at a higher level and their players can quickly go in and out of the first-team.

“Ged’s role here includes helping to create a platform for Charlton Athletic that helps integrate those players to be ready for the first-team, whether that’s coming into Charlton’s or a future at another club.

Charlton Athletic v AFC Wimbledon SkyBet League One, The Valley, 12 December 2020

“He’s working with the people over at the academy to make sure we integrate our youth players so that they are more ready for first-team experiences. Basically have them be ready – not laughed at. So that they know it is important to track back if they lose the ball – it’s a little bit of a luxury player who doesn’t do that.

“It’s part of many, many things we are doing to prepare the club for an existence at a far higher level. We have made significant improvements on the medical side, because that was one of our weaknesses before I took over. We had way too many injured players. As you can see it is slowly improving.

“He [Roddy] is also working quite a bit to help us analyse pre and post game, how we train, how opponents are playing – he’s responsible for that part of the organisation and the people involved on that.”

Brentford announced in 2016 that they were withdrawing from the Elite Player Performance Plan and would no longer run a full academy system between U8 and U21 level.

Asked if Charlton could follow in the Bees’ footsteps, Sandgaard said: “My gut instinct about this is that I’d rather be smarter about how we develop our academy players than totally get rid of it.

“Now the transfer window is closed we’ve got time to look at our structure and how we maximise it.”

Sandgaard acquired the League One club at the end of September and has had to absorb the financial impact of an empty Valley due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has invested money in the club’s matchday streaming service – Charlton TV – including former Sky Sports presenter Scott Minto hosting their show with punditry from the likes of Alan Curbishley, Steve Brown, Garry Nelson and Carl Leaburn.

“We’re not doing too bad in terms of our live streaming,” said the Colorado-based Danish businessman. “We had the whole ‘Chris Farnell Range Rover contest’ that meant so much to the fans. We got a lot of people attracted to our live stream because of that.

“Also we have improved the quality of it – a Sky Sports-style set-up with high definition TVs and multiple angles. That has improved the attendance a lot.

“If you compare to when I took over the club our live stream viewers have more than quadrupled – nearly five times – compared to then.

“It will probably continue to increase. My goal is also to get a much bigger international audience following our games.

“We’re still bleeding money, because of covid, but that [Charlton TV] combined with some fortunate player trades mean we’re doing a little better than my initial financial forecast when I got into it.”

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