THOMAS SANDGAARD has two loves – rock music and football.
And while most people are thinking towards their retirement at the age of 62, the US-based Danish businessman has decided to pursue new careers involving his biggest passions.
Rock ‘n’ roll businessman Thomas Sandgaard has bought CharltonCredit: Instagram / @sandgaardfnd
Sandgaard has acquired the club from ESICredit: Twitter
Having acquired a personal wealth believed to be in excess of £400million supplying medical devices, Sandgaard is recording a debut rock album as lead guitarist of his newly-formed band The Guardian Angel.
Alongside that, he has just completed a takeover of the Addicks from East Street Investments.
And the musician has a Eurovision dream – to rock The Valley with European football.
He told SunSport: “I’m competitive so want Charlton going for trophies.
“The more important ones are when you’re in the Premier League – but to do that you need infrastructure supporting it.
“Then we can be playing for silverware on a European level and I mean the Europa League and Champions League.”
That is some claim for a club that has been out of the top flight for 13 seasons and had THREE different chairmen in the last year.
SANDGAARD ON LEE BOWYER
LEE has done a superb job and plays a positive high-energy game that you need to be successful.
It’s the football I like to watch as a fan. He clearly has all the players playing for him and my first aim if I take over will be to make him my best friend.
Sandgaard plays in a rock band and is recording their debut albumCredit: Instagram / @sandgaardfnd
Now, he’s the owner he can look forward.
But the big question is why would a Dane living in the US want to buy a League One club in turmoil?
Especially a man with experience in medical supplies.
In 1996, he founded Zynex a company that markets electrotherapy devices for use in pain management, physical rehabilitation, neurological diagnosis and cardiac monitoring.
He said: “I’ve two passions – rock music and football.
“I was a bit of a nerd when I was 13 so decided to go out and buy a guitar because I wanted to be one of the cool kids and be a rock musician.
Sandgaard made his £400m fortune supplying medical devicesCredit: Instagram @sandgaardfnd
“But I also played football at amateur level in Denmark and started to love the English game when I watched Chelsea on TV winning the FA Cup in 1970.
“I moved to the States more than 20 years ago to start my own business out of a one-bedroom flat and spent years personally bankrupting myself to make sure wages and bills were paid.
“But in the last few years I’ve reached a point financially where I can do something like this.
“Three months ago, a friend asked, ‘Have you thought about owning an English football club?’
“And I thought, ‘Wow, that could be one of the more positive things I could do in my life.’”
Sandgaard on relationship with Charlton fans
I WENT on social media mainly to try to get communicating with Roland Duchatelet and ESI, who were hesitant on picking up the phone at the start.
But the happy side effect of that was I’ve started having great dialogue with the fans. I’ve learned so much from them and they’ve actually helped me a lot in my negotiations to buy the club.
So Sandgaard networked with various clubs as well as coaching staff at several teams.
He held talks with QPR but “they wanted a couple of hundred million” then looked at Sunderland before settling for Charlton.
The Dane explained: “They stood out. Take the ownership drama and relegation out of the equation and everything is good.
“The foundations are right, they’ve an amazing history and had a lot of Danish players over the years like Allan Simonsen, Dennis Rommedahl and Claus Jensen.”
Sandgaard on immediate plans
THE club needs stability.
I am not going to make a wild claim that we will be in the Premier League in x-amount of years. No, we will focus on getting this club stable for the next two years and build from there.
Sandgaard’s first concern is to keep Lee Bowyer as manager and vowed not to make sweeping changes to the long-suffering staff who have been trying to run the club in difficult circumstances.
However, he will recruit experienced football executives to provide leadership.
One person he will offer a role to is Peter Varney, who not only is a lifelong fan but was CEO when the club were in the Premier League.
And he also has pledged to make sure the club remain at The Valley and their training ground with fears among fans that both could be sold for housing.
And – although Sandgaard acknowledges there is a need for clubs to operate within their financial means – he has vowed to give Bowyer funds to strengthen.
Sandgaard on his favourite player
ALAN SIMONSEN – who joined Charlton from Barcelona – was one of the best Danish players ever.
He had great vision and, like a chess player, could see four or five plays ahead. I
He signed for Charlton after scoring the deciding goal for Barcelona in the European Cup Winners Cup final in 1982.
He said: “I want to strike a balance between investing to be successful and sticking to within the EFL’s profit and sustainability rules. It’s about being smart and the best in the environment you’re in.
“Fans were unhappy with Roland’s vision for the club and his investment. It’s maybe not how I’d have done things because we have different philosophies.
“I’d focus more on football than just looking at Charlton as a capital investment.”
So when will Sandgaard have time to finish this album? He has been working with Danish drummer Kenny Aranoff, who played with greats such as Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, BB King, Celine Dion, Stevie Wonder, Bon Jovi and Meat Loaf.
And he in turn roped in Bon Jovi lead guitarist Phil X and Jane’s Addiction bassist Chris Chaney.
Sandgaard – who has Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water as his personal mobile dialling tone – said: “We got together for five days straight in a studio for 12 hours solid and recorded nine tracks.
Now a takeover is done, Sandgaard can concentrate on recording his rock albumCredit: Getty Images – Getty
“Covid-19 – and now Charlton – have delayed things but I’ve been buying up all the domain names for when we finally launch.”
And he might do a gig at The Valley and invite assistant-manager and guitar-playing singer Johnnie Jackson to join him.
He laughed: “I never knew about Johnnie but been checking him out online. He’s really good. If we get promoted, we’ll have to do a gig.”
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