A consortium of Portuguese business professionals say they have made an attempt to buy Charlton Athletic.
Corporate Football Organisation Portugal says it has prepared a five-year plan to return the club to the Premier League and highlight the Wolves model as something that has inspired them.
Here is an exclusive Q&A with CFO Portugal founder Fernando Corte-Real.
What are your plans for Charlton?
CFO Portugal has presented the short-term plans to our investors to balance between finance results and sport results to put the club on the start of a new era of growth in order to get to the Premier League. Our approach is about profit from a finance perspective, growth for business and titles for the sport side. We have a good example of this already in English football with Wolves. Our goal is to give Charlton's glory back to the supporters.
Why choose Charlton?
Charlton is a historic club in one of the most important leagues in international football. It has a great academy and is an exciting project for the future. It's important for us that it has a strong supporters structure. They have fantastic fans and that will help us take them back to the Premier League. We think there is a strong chance for success.
How many offers have you made?
We made two kinds of offers. One to acquire the majority of the ownership and shortly afterwards we made another one for assuming commitments in exchange for majority of ownership.
What stage is this at?
Now we are expecting a decision from Charlton to start working as soon as possible because timing is crucial. Athletes and the team need stability and the fans want to know.
What communication have you had from Charlton?
CFO Portugal acts discreetly away from the spotlight. We work in low profile for high result. We presented a proposal to Charlton management and have had the normal exchange of information for analysis in line with a legal process.
Who exactly have you spoken to at Charlton?
It was top management.
Where is the money coming from?
CFO Portugal works, represents and manages assets on behalf of investors from different industries, mainly in Portugal. They are from real estate to sport so it comes from a variety of incomes.
What assurances can you give Charlton fans that the money is available?
Above all fans expect sport results and not only money makes that. Good financial management and assets with value work much better than £1m or £20m or £50m. We have all of that in the plan.
Would you agree to buy the stadium and the training ground?
Yes. It has to be in due time according to strategic plans...these assets are part of Charlton itself.
You mentioned Wolves before. Would you look at that model for Charlton?
I don't like the copycat option but there are a lot of good examples there. It shows professionalism between sport results and a good structure. It's a good example.
What impact does coronavirus have on your plans?
To be honest, not much, apart from health and safety of staff and fans. We need to reinvent and change concepts, change strategies, increase sport and financial methods and renegotiate contracts. These are things that come with any crisis.
Are you confident you'd pass the owners and directors test?
We don't see any reason why we shouldn't. Our priority is to work with the current direction, to give them the right tools and management methods. Our CFO team is a network of more than 230 experts.
How would Lee Bowyer fit in your plans if this is successful?
Our main concern at step one of this is the balance between finance and sport. The coach has a job to do like anyone else at a management level. We all expect to get results out of our expertise area. We will work closely together on our goals then the main issue will be to know if Mr Lee Bowyer is also counting on us for his plans. We see him as a good coach but perhaps with not all the tools and stability that he requires to manage a team.
Would anything change if Charlton were relegated?
Well that's a good one. I would be lying if I said that wouldn't matter. However, we believe in staying in the Championship and start growing towards the Premier League instead of thinking about relegation. It's all about mindset and attitude but everything is possible in either case although a worst-case scenario would require another management approach.
Do you have any links to previous owners of Charlton?
No, none whatsoever.
What do you think the chances are of this happening?
We are anxious but that is not good for business! So we are just on a good expectation that we have some feedback because there has been a lot of news recently and that creates instability. I've seen the coach saying that and I absolutely agree with him. We really need to have this story ended. We hope this is on our side and we can help the club with professionalism, financial profit, sport results and a global business management for Charlton and the supporters.
If we have a strategic plan for three to five years it could happen [reaching Premier League]. We want to work very hard with everyone at Charlton and the supporters to make that goal a reality.