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Lee Bowyer exclusive: Things got so bad at Charlton we nearly ran out of balls – now we have owner who cares

Achain of broken promises, money that never arrived, boardroom chaos and the onset of a global pandemic nearly proved catastrophic for Charlton Athletic.

Lee Bowyer says the club “came within days of folding” before Danish businessman Thomas Sandgaard completed his takeover at the Valley in September.

In an exclusive interview with Standard Sport, Bowyer has lifted the lid on a turbulent year for Charlton and gone into extraordinary detail about how bad the situation got behind the scenes.

He has revealed money was so tight that Charlton almost ran out of footballs at their training ground and players deferred wages to stop the club going into administration.

An acrimonious and very public ownership crisis eventually took its toll last season and, despite Bowyer’s best efforts, the Addicks were relegated from the Championship.

But things are looking much better for Charlton now and, for the first time in years, there is genuine optimism around the south London club about the future.  

Sandgaard has finally brought some stability after some turbulent years under Roland Duchatelet and then East Street Investments in its different guises. He has ambitious plans to get Charlton back in the Premier League, has vowed to invest to rebuild the club and has even spoken to Bowyer about dreams of reaching Europe.

<img src="https://static.standard.co.uk/2020/11/20/12/newFile-5.jpg?width=2753" alt="<p>New Addicks owner Thomas Sandgaard 

Bowyer continues to do an impressive job and, no longer shackled by off-field turmoil or a transfer ban, has guided the Addicks to six wins in a row in League One.

“Thomas could not have come at a better time,” says Bowyer. “He told me himself that we came within days of folding, we were gone.

“There have been some tough times. The thing that disappointed me the most with everything that happened before was being promised the world, being told there was going to be money to spend and then it went the complete opposite way. I got made to believe everything was going to be good and the club was going to move forward, but it did not work out like that. I found it tough to take.  

“It was not right. Not just for myself, I felt for everybody at the club and the fans because there are a lot of people who care about this club. We were at the stage where we were in big, big trouble where we were struggling to pay wages. It is the players’ livelihoods. We have got fans who care. You are affecting a hell of a lot of people by saying one thing and doing another. You are messing around with people’s lives.  

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