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.
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.
But that work is on hold because he is negotiating to buy Charlton Athletic.
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.
And a team that has been relegated to League One and in danger of going into administration if a takeover deal is not completed by the time the season kicks off on September 12.
But Sandgaard says he and his legal team have had “constructive, encouraging and positive dialogue” with current club owners ESI as well as former owner Roland Duchatelet, who still owns The Valley and their Sparrows Lane training base – having sold the Addicks separately for a quid in December.
On paper, it is a mess. Current chairman Paul Elliott wants to take legal action against ESI majority shareholder Tahnoon Nimer after insisting he had a written agreement the club would be sold to him.
He is currently seeking an injunction to stop any sale – despite having failed the EFL’s owners and directors’ test.
That all comes months after ex-chairman Matt Southall was removed from his post by Nimer in March and club lawyer Chris Farnell sacked last week.
But Sandgaard said: “It doesn’t scare me. It’s not as complicated as some make out.
“We all know where Roland stands in this and his history with the club. The difficult part was getting him to start communicating and the same thing with the whole Nimer-Southall part and then Elliott and Farnell.
“Once you take the drama away, there’s a deal that can easily be done ahead of the new season – one that ideally includes everything, the club, stadium and training ground.
“I’ve hired attorneys from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer – a huge international legal firm – and where my lack of experience in negotiating in English football falls short, they’ve been brilliant in cutting through and seeing the simplicity.
“And regardless of who is in charge of ESI, there’s a solution.”
But the big question since Sandgaard revealed his hand last Thursday is why would a Dane living in the US want to buy a League One club in turmoil?
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.
“But I also played football at amateur level in Denmark and started to love the English game when I watched on TV Chelsea 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.’”
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.
“I went to The Valley and training ground two weeks ago. The stadium was shut and I almost attempted to climb the fence – but I could see from the outside it was a fantastic arena. They’ve a passionate fanbase too.”
If his takeover is successful, Sandgaard wants 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.
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.
“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.”