Enthusiastic Spending, Poor Execution

Charlton have posted their accounts for the 2021/22 season, revealing losses of £6.3m for the period. However, this was partially offset by a 40% increase in turnover following the COVID pandemic. This comes off the back of an £8.1m profit the previous season, however this profit was entirely driven by an £8.6m profit on a “disposal of leasehold assets”, rather than any real improvement.


Charlton’s £9.79m turnover is the club’s largest ever in the third tier, a 24% higher total than the last time they were promoted back in 2019, and 14% higher than the 2012 promotion. However, contrary to Sandgaard’s previous comments about “Project Breakeven”, it seems unlikely that Charlton can push turnover much higher without success in the form of promotion to the Championship. After all, the TV rights alone are almost four times higher in the Championship than in League One. It is therefore no coincidence that Charlton’s turnover was 36% lower than the 2019/20 total, the financial gulf between the two divisions is vast and is getting larger.

If Charlton were to achieve promotion, then staying up would be an achievement in itself as promoted teams are finding this more difficult than before. Between 2017 and 2022, the mean league position for a promoted team was 19th, three places lower than 2012-17 (16th) and seven lower than the 2007-12 (12th). To reduce this gap, promoted teams must unsustainably throw more money than ever at playing budgets, something that is far easier said than done.

Wage bill/Transfer Fees

At 10.6m, Charlton’s total wage bill was likely the fifth biggest in the league (Sunderland & Sheff Wed were yet to publish their accounts at the time of writing, while Wycombe haven’t published full accounts). This was an increase of 14% on the previous season and clearly Sandgaard was fully invested at that point, with the likes of Kirk, Fraser, and Aneke signed on long-term contracts. However, when compared to the rest of the division, it is clear that Charlton squandered the resources that were available, the fact that the 2018/19 promotion budget was 2% larger than this season’s budget emphasises this.

Overall, Charlton spent £108 on wages for every £100 of income. Concerningly this was the average for League One and reflects the absurd position the majority of teams in the Football League are in.

Transfer budgets shouldn’t receive the same attention as wage budgets because the latter is a far better indicator of on-pitch performance, however, at £1.7m, it is worth mentioning that only Ipswich (3.3m) spent more on players than Charlton in League One that season. Undisclosed fees were paid for Stockley, Clare, Kirk, Lavelle in the summer and Aneke and Fraser in the January.

This was the most Charlton have ever spent on transfer fees in the third tier. Going forward, a further £679k is payable in add-ons to other clubs if current players reach certain requirements such as a number of appearances, promotion, or international honours. Of this total, £452k was added in the summer.

When it comes to selling players, Charlton have tended to outperform the divisional average and last season was no exception. Player sales brought in £3.3m, mostly from the mid-season transfers of Burstow and Beadle, but also from transfer clauses being triggered for the likes of Lookman, Pope, and Dijksteel.

Charlton also spent £500k on miscellaneous expenses, presumably this was the cost of sacking both Adkins and Jackson along with coaches such as Skiverton during the period.


To conclude, these figures suggest that the “Skintgaard” moniker was unfair. It wasn’t a lack of investment that was Sandgaard’s undoing, it was the execution – particularly the placement of family and friends into key executive roles. When compared to the rest of the division, Sandgaard reasonably could have expected a playoff position, the club had the fifth largest budget in the league after all. However, the scattergun approach to transfers, entrusting his unqualified son with a key club role, and a lack of time given to managers was to be his undoing.

Where does the club go from here? Unfortunately, there is no blueprint for promotion, Ipswich spent big and failed badly, but their ownership doubled down last summer and they are now on course for promotion – but even then, they’re not walking the league. Without a wealthy benefactor, Charlton’s greatest asset is the academy, both as a source of playing talent and revenue generation, it should therefore be maximised further.


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