Chris Farnell

Personal Background

Born in Manchester 21 December 1969, as a schoolboy Christopher William Farnell played for Manchester Boys FC, and as a teenager trained with Blackburn Rovers reserves alongside the likes of David May and Jason Wilcox, until a knee injury ended hopes of progression to the senior game.  

His first wife was Rebecca Connell, married in 1993.  They divorced in 2013, and a domestic incident in September 2013 gave rise to a court case in February 2014, when Chris Farnell was cleared of attacking his wife at their luxury home.  Farnell was charged with one count of assault, which related to an incident on 24 September 2013, during which his wife suffered a perforated eardrum.  During the trial, lawyer Frederick Rose gave a character reference to the court, saying he had known the defendant for 18 years.  He said: “He has represented many high-profile sports personalities, premier league footballers and celebrities. I believe he is one of the leading sports lawyers because he has personal attributes. He does a professional job without basking in the glory. I’ve never seen him lose his temper or raise his voice.”

They had 4 children, one of whom embarrassed her father on 30 November 2020 with a claim broadcast on TikTok (rapidly denied, explained as a joke, and taken down) that Farnell was failing to pay child support. 

Educational and Professional Background

Farnell’s route into his profession appears to have been a little unconventional.  He studied for his 2:1 Economics degree at what was then called Liverpool Institute of Higher Education (now Liverpool Hope University), sitting exams set by Liverpool University.  As it was not a law degree, he would have needed a 1-year conversion course before starting his 3-year vocational training.  Where he did this does not seem to be in the public domain.  He was admitted as a solicitor by the SRA in 1996. 

Farnell has become a consummate self-publicist.  How many other solicitors employ their own PR agent?  In Farnell’s case it is currently James Fletcher of Onside PR, former football reporter at The Mirror and News of the World, and assistant editor at The Daily Mirror, who clearly has many press contacts.  Even Farnell’s Wikipedia entry carries this warning from the editors: “This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external links, and by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view. (November 2020)” 

Yet Farnell is strangely coy about naming the firm where he first worked as a newly qualified solicitor, prior to joining Eversheds in 2000 and moving to Hill Dickinson by 2004.  It is also a surprising omission from) his Linkedin profile. (limited access)

 During these “blank” years, 1996–2000, Chris Farnell did go into business with his friend and fellow solicitor Frederick William Rose, becoming joint directors of their company Kinky Enterprises Ltd in 1997.

First Steps in Sports Law

By 2003, Farnell had already spotted a niche professional opportunity, and was representing over 100 footballers, both in the UK and Europe.  “Players are now small businesses in themselves”, he observed

 With this experience in mind it seems odd Farnell recommended a tax-efficient scheme to Cristiano Ronaldo while he was playing at Manchester United which had later consequences in the shape of a trial in 2017 for tax fraud, when he moved to Real Madrid.  Ronaldo was found guilty, given a 2-year suspended sentence, and fined €16.8 million. 

Surely Farnell had not based advice on the short-sighted assumption Portuguese-born Ronaldo would remain in the UK until he retired?  

IPS Law

By 2006 Farnell was advising soccer, rugby and cricket stars on big-money moves and sponsorship deals, having previously advised on transfers involving soccer internationals James Beattie, Harry Kewell, Jermaine Jenas and Stephen Carr. He also acted for St Helens RL ace Paul Sculthorpe on a sponsorship deal with Gillette.

Farnell now set up his own business, IPS Law, in South King Street, Manchester, taking as a partner his former assistant at Hill Dickinson, Paul Steven Fletcher.  Fletcher left the board of IPS Law in 2013 and was replaced the following year by Farnell’s long-standing friend Fred William Rose, who had recently been his character witness at the 2014 marital assault trial, and previously fellow director of Kinky Enterprises Ltd.

In September 2015, following a long running legal dispute arising from a player transfer in 2007, including a previous court case in 2014, Farnell was acquitted of two charges of perjury when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) offered no evidence.  Agent Tony McGill had brought the private prosecution against Bolton Wanderers Chairman Phil Garside and others from the club, as well as another agent Jerome Anderson and others from his SEM firm, including Farnell.  

Club take-overs

By 2013 Farnell was engaging with another aspects of sports law, the football club take-over.  Often Farnell has acted for prospective purchasers who had difficulties satisfying the requirements of the FA/EFL, and indulged in what he was later to excuse as the innocuous sounding “mission creep”.  Others have a different and less charitable view of his actions.

Leeds United FC – mission creep

The first time the media widely featured his actions was in early 2014.  Farnell was acting for Massimo Cellini, who at the time was negotiating to buy Leeds United FC.  Terms were agreed with the previous owners GFH Capital, subject to EFL approval of Cellini, during January 2014, but approval was not achieved until April 2014, due to investigations into Cellini’s overseas conviction for tax fraud, so Farnell was clearly overstepping his position [mission creep?] when he “sacked“ Leeds United manager, Brian McDermott, on Cellini’s instruction on 31 January 2014.  This “sacking” was swiftly reversed by GFH Capital.  

A League Managers’ Association statement said: “Brian received a call [on Friday] night from a solicitor informing him that Leeds United were terminating his contract as manager.  [On Saturday] morning Brian received a further phone call from a director of the football club stating that the company on whose behalf the solicitor had contacted Brian are not the owners of Leeds United.”  

According to the Daily Mail, “The Leeds ownership debacle became even more farcical yesterday when the lawyer who sacked reinstated manager Brian McDermott was himself evicted from Elland Road.  Manchester-based Chris Farnell, who represents Italian Massimo Cellino in his proposed club purchase, was given his marching orders by David Haigh, managing director of current owners GFH.  Farnell was working alone in the boardroom when he was told to leave immediately by Haigh, who was accompanied by a burly security guard who accompanied Farnell out of the ground.  It was considered inappropriate for Farnell, who handed over his Leeds security pass, to be in situ when no takeover had been finalised and he was challenging financial decisions [more mission creep?].  The lawyer, who also advises Everton manager Roberto Martinez, is only likely to return to Leeds – in a senior club role – if Cellino passes the Football League owners and directors test“.

Salisbury City FC & Charlton Athletic FC – ownership confusion

Claiming to represent a new owner before a purchase had been actually been completed is a common feature of media coverage of two more take-overs where Farnell has been involved.  Once might be a misunderstanding, but to do so three times appears misleading.

It happened at Salisbury City in 2014, where a Consortium of five supporters engaged Farnell and attempted to get Moroccan businessman Touzar’s take-over reversed in the courts.  Following a court hearing on 11 June 2014, the Consortium represent themselves to the fans on club website as the New Owners. They were NOT.  The court hearing was only to give them leave to proceed to TRY to reverse the takeover.  Touzar was still the owner. 

(Many of the statements made by Touzar and the Consortium on the official site of the now-dissolved SCFC are quoted here in full.  The original official site has closed.)  

The situation was also clarified in section 32 of the FA Appeal Board’s reasons for its decision on 5 August 2014. re Salisbury FC Ltd v. Football Conference.  The original case had two different parties claiming to be the owner of Salisbury FC, Touzar and the group Farnell was representing. (access pdf by entering the following into google: 

The FA Reasons for Appeal Board Decision 5 August 2014 – Football …  www.thefa.com › pdf › the-fa-2014-15 › written-reasons)

Similarly, with Paul Elliott at Charlton Athletic in 2020, at which time Farnell was the club lawyer, yet also seemingly acting in the interests of Paul Elliott, it was stated (inaccurately) on the club website on 10 June 2020, “East Street Investments, the company that owns Charlton Athletic, has been taken over by a consortium led by businessman Paul Elliott.”, and on the following day, “Paul Elliott: “I’m excited to get started and I’m looking forward to the challenge”.  Charlton’s new owner Paul Elliott is looking to bring some much-needed stability back to The Valley.” Paul Elliott has never been a director of Charlton Athletic Football Company Ltd nor of East Street Investments.  Like Farnell, Elliott appealed against the decision that he had failed the EFL Owners and Directors Test, but (unlike Farnell) never publicised the outcome of that appeal.  As far as is known, the original EFL decision stands.

Swansea City FC – more mission creep?

Farnell was also involved in the 2016 take-over of Swansea, following which there were accusations that he had sought to get waivers signed to invalidate a shareholders’ agreement ahead of the takeover.  “On 19 July 2016, the Supporters’ Trust was approached by Chris Farnell, a solicitor acting for Huw Jenkins and other selling parties.  Mr Farnell asked the Trust to sign a waiver stating that the original Shareholders’ Agreement was not, and had never been, valid.  This document, which Mr Jenkins was clearly aware of as he had signed it, also came with the offer that, if signed, the Supporters’ Trust would be afforded two director positions on the club board – one full directorship and the other with observer status. The Trust rejected this offer and the document remains unsigned on our part.”

It was further alleged Farnell acted in a bullying manner towards former Swansea City Director Steve Penny, who claimed he was “bullied” and “intimidated” into resigning his position when the football club was sold.  Three of the club’s oldest board members lost their positions as directors at the time of the take-over of 68% of the shares by Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien in July 2016.  One of them, lawyer Steve Penny, subsequently sued the club for unfair dismissal and age discrimination.  

At a tribunal in Cardiff in December 2017 it was stated that Mr Penny described how club lawyer Chris Farnell told him there would be “implications” if he refused to give up his director’s position ahead of the takeover.  The official report of the Tribunal gives further details:  

 “Having discovered through the formal announcement that the sale was to go ahead the claimants had a meeting with Mr Jenkins and Mr Dineen on 7 June 2016. It is not in dispute that at that meeting Mr Jenkins informed Mr Penny, Mr Keefe, Mr Gwylim Joseph and Mr Dineen that they were required to resign by reason of Premier league rules. It is also accepted by the respondent that their understanding that the rules of the Premier League required this was wrong. As is set out in the evidence of Mr Farnall [sic], the suggestion Premier League rules required this came from him to Mr Jenkins, which was why Mr Jenkins relayed it to the claimants. Mr Farnall’s[sic] evidence which we accept was that on further analysis he did not believe that in fact it was Premier league rules which required the claimant’s resignation as directors. Irrespective of the reason for their removal as directors they were also informed the meeting of 7 June at that they would not be reinstated as directors but would be part of a management team.”  This misunderstanding of the Premier League rules does not reflect well on Farnell’s expertise.

See also:

https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/swansea-board-member-bullied-resigning-14025144

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-42316763)

https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Ex-Swansea+bosses%27+case+is+adjourned-a0497841973

https://www.swanstrust.co.uk/2017/12/31/detailed-trust-response-to-huw-jenkins-interview/

https://www.swanstrust.co.uk/2019/02/13/trust-response-to-press-article/

https://www.scfc2.co.uk/forums/discussion/416/steve-penny

Bury FC – questionable due diligence

The sad situation at Bury FC was a while in the making, and an interpretation of events between Stewart Day’s purchase in 2014 and Steven Dale taking the club to the brink of expulsion in August 2019 is related here: (scroll down to 8th post)

  Understandably, fans were desperate to save their club. Farnell’s own account of the situation, included  in a lengthy rebuttal of accusations about his conduct at Charlton,  published on 31 Jul 2020 is as follows:

In relation to Bury, I was approached by the Clubs representatives, to assist and act for the club in relation to its legal position.

“It became apparent, very quickly, that the club would not survive unless owner Steve Dale was removed. It was our opinion that monies were being taken out of the club and administration was a very real threat.

“We provided unequivocal advice to the EFL that the removal of Mr Dale was absolutely necessary.

“I did not charge any monies for the work at Bury. My ambition was to try and help the club survive.

“Contrary to ridiculous suggestions, Mr Southall was never involved at any stage and I did not work, or have any previous relationship with Mr Dale.

“I tried everything I could to help Bury Football Club and so, to suggest anything to contrary is ridiculous.”

What Farnell does not mention is that it was Acting General Manager Scott Johnson and football consultant Dave Jones, who initially asked him to assist and act for the club regarding the specialist legal contractual situations and player registrations.   This developed into guidance over trying to save Bury FC.  [source = email from Scott Johnson] While he was at Bury, Farnell worked with Johnson, Jones, and club secretary Jill Neville.  https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/burnley-chris-farnell-200m-takeover-22938435  & https://www.thesun.co.uk/sport/football/9817301/bury-threaten-efl-high-court/

Neither did Farnell mention that Dave Jones was later to become involved at Charlton Athletic while Farnell was still CAFC’s lawyer, Jones being a recipient of one of the infamous club Range Rovers, which he promptly offered for sale.  Nor that Dave Jones was with Farnell in his IPS Law office when paid an unscheduled visit by a group of Charlton fans on 7 August 2020. 

Apparently, Farnell did not get off to the best start with Bury owner Steve Dale, who seemed in no great hurry to sell the club in spite of the growing urgency of the situation.  https://www.skysports.com/football/news/11774/11783941/bury-receive-very-good-offer-to-buy-club-as-efl-impose-new-deadline 

On 3 August 2019 a statement about EFL’s postponement of Bury’s fixture v. Accrington Stanley appeared on the club website, which ends “The actions from the EFL are causing immeasurable damage to Bury Football Club.  Regards, Chris Farnell, Lawyer to Bury Football Club, Senior Partner, IPS Law.”, which misleadingly makes it sound as though Farnell was the official club lawyer.  

On 8 August, Bury was given 14 days to provide the EFL with a plan to pay off outstanding creditors. The EFL repeatedly insisted it was working with the club to try and resolve the problems, but Bury faced expulsion if financial order could not be restored by 23 August

On 12 August 2019 the owner, Dale, said he would consider selling the club after staff ‘implored’ him to accept a newly received offer to buy the club.  Before confirming his willingness to sell, Dale told Sky Sports News:

I was contacted by lawyer Chris Farnell late this afternoon saying he had someone interested – no name, no offer and that was it.

“As I have always said, I am happy to sell to the right buyer, so imagine my surprise at a statement being put out from my club without my knowledge.  I am happy to talk to legitimate buyers, not opportunists.

Seemingly recognising his tactical error, that evening Chris Farnell issued a clarifying statement, saying: “In light of comments made by Bury FC owner Steve Dale earlier today, I wish to underline I am not acting on his behalf but providing counsel for a group who wish for him to sell the club.  This group, closely associated with Bury, strongly believe the future of the club can be preserved should Mr Dale agree to sell his interest immediately.”

It is unclear who Farnell had brought to the table as a prospective buyer.  Possibly it was former Port Vale chairman Norman Smurthwaite? His offer would have secured the survival of the club, but was rejected by Dale on 20 August, believing he could get a better offer.

The EFL gave an extra 48 hours to avoid expulsion after it emerged that four parties were interested in a takeover. Late on 23 August, Dale was said to have agreed a sale to analytics company C&N Sporting Risk. The following morning, an EFL board meeting gave Bury until 17:00 BST on 27 August to complete the sale, though Debbie Jevans later said a further short extension might be granted if the sale was very close to conclusion.

On 27 August 2019, shortly before the deadline, C&N Sporting Risk pulled out of the deal saying it was “unable to proceed”.  Chris Farnell, the lawyer working to broker a deal (according to the BBC), has said “alternative bids” have been put to the EFL and they were now “awaiting an outcome”. Journalist & broadcaster Niall McCaughan tweeted, “Quote from Bury FC’s lawyer Chris Farnell just now on national radio “New bidders are understood to be in talks with the EFL” However one of the bidders is believed to be Joseph Cala, the overseer of Gateshead’s plight last season [2018/19] and once keen to get involved with Pompey”  

At around 23:00 BST on 27 August, the EFL announced that Bury’s membership of the league had been withdrawn.

The following day, the Head of EFL ruled out any reprieve for expelled Bury.  However, Chris Farnell insisted Bury should still be alive, and told The Sun newspaper that SJ Global had agreed a rescue package with Dale.  An appeal to block Bury’s expulsion from the EFL was prepared, with claims the EFL misunderstood the plans to transfer funds to the club.  “SJ Global International” (no firm of that name is registered at Companies House) were set to take over the crisis club and had been in the process of agreeing the best way to provide £7 million in funds to the club when the EFL pulled the plug.  However, an EFL lawyer told Jill Neville, the former club secretary, that the funds had been rescinded late on 27 August. As such, the EFL expelled The Shakers from the EFL.  (The Sun’s reference to SJ Global International is believed to refer to SJ Global Investments Worldwide Ltd 

Farnell insisted Bury should still be alive as Dale had accepted the deal. The offer came in late on Monday 26 August and the EFL were contacted by Farnell who made clear that the group met all financial criteria. The EFL, however, were believed to have misunderstood the situation.  The media thought (or were told) that the EFL had considered the deal to have broken down when SJ Global were simply trying to ascertain how best to transfer funds. SJ Global are valued at $500 million and indeed meet the criteria for owning a football club.  Farnell said: “All of the clubs’ senior staff are amazed the club was not allowed a small extension for a period of a few hours, in order that funds in excess of £7m be deposited into an account to provide proof of funds to the EFL.  “This was a genuine offer and up until the EFL announcement, the funds were in the process of being transferred.  “Now that opportunity to save the club has been taken away from Bury FC.”  Farnell added: “We intend to try to make the EFL rescind their decision to expel Bury Football Club. The fight goes on.”

Actually, it appears with hindsight that the EFL may have had a better understanding of SJ Global than the press credited them with.  The company seems to have had little substance beyond a website, and a post-box which it shared with 13 other members of the Global Group in a small office in Prince of Wales Road, Norwich. SJ Global was also accused in 2019 of being part of an alleged international fraud which saw millions of pounds wiped off the value of a chain of burger restaurants, according to court documents.  The court case was dropped on 5 March 2021 

Furthermore, S J Global Investments Worldwide Ltd is now (as of May 2021) in liquidation. The liquidators’ statement of affairs states that the company had £20k of assets at the time of its liquidation, which suggests that the idea of them putting £7M into Bury less than 2 years earlier was a fantasy. 

Where was Farnell in this?  Surely since he was the person giving advice to the senior staff at the club, and described on 27 August 2019 as “the lawyer working to broker a deal”, the viability of a leading bidder is something one would expect him to have been checking – even if he was working pro bono as he claimed in 2020.  Where was his Due Diligence on a company offering to invest £7 million in Bury F.C.?

This was not quite the end of Farnell’s involvement with Bury FC.  One further name has been associated with his quest to find a buyer for the club, a last-minute offer to buy the club made by a London-based Brazilian, Gustavo Ferreira. He told the Guardian he is a pastor, and made the offer shortly before the 5pm deadline on Tuesday [27 August], in partnership with a gold mining company in Brazil, WGS Mining, of which he was said to be a partner.

On 29 August, football news reporter Matt Slater tweetedMade a few calls about Bury’s would-be saviour Gustavo Ferreira, including one to a guy who lends football clubs money. Here’s what he texted back:The guy is a high risk credit profile and NOT listed with any Directorships….he reads poorly on all our DD lists.” 

In July 2020, Jimmy Stone (Head of Social Media @LondonMarathon) tweeted a Dan Roan (BBC) interview of with Farnell, made August 2019, with the accompanying comments:

Listen to @Chris_Farnell’s answer when he was asked ‘why a Brazilian multi-millionaire pastor, would be interested in saving Bury FC?’ last August and then tell me you trust him. #cafc” 

Still Gustavo, the heralded saviour of Bury landed on his feet. Director of a now dissolved (obviously) Christian Football Team called ‘Fire United’ based in Lewisham. I mean come on. 

“To be clear, @Chris_Farnell was pushing this guy, a pastor and director of a tiny Christian football club based in Lewisham as the man who was going to save Bury. Because he was friends with Adriano Basso. #cafc #buryfc

Although this happened the following year, and is not directly pertinent, on 11 September 2020 Gustavo Ferreira was asking on Linkedin for investors to support his amateur Christian Football Club.  Does this really sound like a man with access to the funds required to bail out a professional club in financial trouble like Bury F.C.?  Once more there appears to have been a sad lack of Due Diligence by Farnell before he went on camera speaking up in public for Ferreira as a prospective purchaser of Bury F.C.  Again, it is possible the EFL had a better grasp of the financial situation of the prospective purchaser than Farnell did.

Charlton Athletic & complaints to the SRA

Although Farnell has demonstrated a surprisingly broad interpretation of his role at several clubs, and some “mission creep” at Leeds United, he excelled himself in this art at Charlton Athletic.

Sources report Farnell saying his initial contact with persons now known to be connected to East Street Investments and Abu Dhabi Business Development was in c.2017, when Chris Gascoine and John Hirst came to see him at his office in Hale and told him they knew some very wealthy people in Abu Dhabi who wanted to buy a big PL club. They wanted to ask Farnell how you go about doing it.  Tahnoon Nimer was one of the names mentioned.  Jacco van Seventer and John Hirst returned to Farnell on a similar mission in November 2019, but then employed Mike Blood of JMW Solicitors Ltd, to work first for East Street Investments and then Charlton Athletic Football Club.  

Farnell claims his next involvement was when Nimer contacted him after problems with CAFC Chairman and CEO Southall’s alleged misuse of CAFC’s finances became apparent.  Nimer asked Farnell to help him deal with the Southall issue.  Farnell already knew Southall, having been lawyer for his company, Independent Sports Capital, founded in 2014.  They had fallen out when Southall defaulted on his fees.  This ended in court in 2019, when Southall was ordered to pay more than £10,000 to IPS Law, but said he could not as he was not working  [scroll down article] and had no means of income.  

Nimer’s appointment of Farnell became public on 11 March 2020 when Farnell, described as “lawyer of majority shareholder Tahnoon Nimer” gave an interview on TalkSPORT.  

Late the following afternoon, Farnell waited in the carpark at The Valley while suspension papers he had drawn up were served on his behalf by members of staff acting on Nimer’s instructions.  The police were called, but eventually Southall, finance officer McHugh, and director Heller left the building.

On 17 March, Richard Cawley of the South London Press tweeted that JMW had withdrawn as solicitors for the club, taking the decision due to “lack of cogent instruction from the board”.

It seems likely that IPS Law were appointed to take over as the club’s lawyers as soon as this happened, but public confirmation of Farnell’s new status did not come until the following month.  On 24 April, during a TalkSPORT interview, Farnell said he had been retained by both Charlton and Mr Nimer.  Audio starts at about starts about 19:25,   

Farnell and Romanian accountant Andrei Mihail were appointed directors of ESI on 6 April.  It later emerged that EFL were not informed of this, and this proved to be a stumbling block when they subsequently failed the O&D Test.  They therefore resigned 7 August. Farnell increasingly took it upon himself to be the public face of Charlton Athletic, responding to social media comments from fans, and appearing again on TalkSPORT on 6 May. Audio starts at about starts about 9:50

Rumours had already been circulating that Nimer wanted to sell Charlton Athletic before it was announced on the official site on 22 May that the club had received notice that legal moves were in process for the sale of ESI.  Peter Varney, who had been Charlton’s popular CEO 1998-2008,  was known to have been attempting to engage with ESI, on behalf of Andrew Barclay.  The news of his interest and that of several other prospective purchasers was broken to fans on 3 June by NUJ member Rick Everitt, one-time colleague of Varney and editor of Voice of the Valley fanzine.  

Charlton Athletic Supporters’ Trust (CAST) contacted Charlton Director Marian Mihail (who had been appointed by Nimer with Claudiu Florica to replace Southall and Heller) to discuss the Varney/Barclay news, and were surprised by his response which began, “Thank you for your e-mail. Peter Varney sounds amazing on paper. Unfortunately, last night was the first time I’ve heard of a possible bid any only through the media. Nothing has ever gone into the club, officially or unofficially.” 

This swiftly provoked further comments.  Rick Everitt tweeted, ” Marian Mihail has now claimed that the first “the club” knew of Varney’s approach was through my VOTV article yesterday. Yet I know Nimer’s lawyer Chris Farnell has been in contact with Varney for weeks. How very strange…”    Peter Varney tweeted, “The statement put out by Mihail today is misleading, as I have been in contact with Chris Farnell (Nimer’s lawyer) for two months.” Farnell’s response was, to say the least, unexpected, “Mr Waghorn, I always enjoy my conversations with Mr Varney and I did speak with him previously and again within the last weekThere has not been any discussion of ownership.”

Fans’ unease was compounded on 8 June when The Sun’s Alan Nixon reported: “#CAFC chief Tahnoon Nimer ends five-month reign as owner with consortium fronted by lawyer Chris Farnell to take over.”  Nixon confirmed the situation on Twitter: “Farnell has done the deal. And organised the ‘consortium’.”    To be more accurate, although a sale may have been agreed in principle, it had not been completed, as was confirmed during the court case BL-2020-MAN-000063 Eaststreet v Southall heard in front of Judge Pearce of Manchester High Court on 17 July 2020.  How could Farnell, engaged by Nimer to look after his interests, presumably including the sale of the club, now also act as an introducer for and/or representative of a consortium buying CAFC from Nimer?  At the same time Farnell was definitely still acting as the club’s lawyer.  On 11 June a statement on the club’s official website confirmed this.

On 19 June Peter Varney tweeted: “Andrew Barclay and I had further constructive talks with Paul Elliott and Chris Farnell today and are considering their position further. Both sides have agreed to maintain an ongoing dialogue in the best interests of the football club” We now know Elliott never owned the club, so was Farnell representing the prospective purchaser Elliott, the seller Nimer, or the club itself?  The following day, and up popped Farnell, potential investor in Charlton Athletic…  The company Staunch Partners Ltd,  founded by Farnell & Egyptian businessman el Kashashy in November 2019 (also used by the two of them in 2020/21 in an unsuccessful attempt to buy Burnley FC) was being used to raise money for running CAFC.  On 3 July Elliott confirmed el Kashashy was a member of his consortium, writing, “He is someone that both Chris Farnell and I have known for some time.” And, “I’ve known Chris for a long time and he has had a variety of high-profile clients within the sports industry. […]  His role here, was initially in the claim against Mr Southall, which is continuing, and he is now working with our consortium in our dealings with the EFL

It would seem difficult to comprehend how these multiple overlapping roles for different parties embroiled in the same episode would not raise serious suspicion of a conflict of interest on the part of Farnell, the avoidance of which is a fundamental duty owed by all solicitors. As such suspicions mounted, the first of several complaints was registered by a fan with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Farnell issued a statement on 31 July about his actions at Charlton.    Judging by the poor grammar and internal inaccuracies (for starters, maybe Farnell can tell us why he was live on TalkSport purporting to be Nimer’s Lawyer a day before he now says he was appointed?), it appears this was composed in a rush and published without proof-reading.  Shades of the careless form-filling error Farnell later claimed had prevented him passing the EFL’s O&D Test?  As a profession, solicitors are usually renowned for attention to detail, but evidently there are exceptions. 

On 7 August it emerged Farnell and Paul Elliott had failed the EFL O&D Test.  This was also the day a group of Charlton fans paid a visit to Farnell’s office in Hale.  Parked outside were two black CAFC Range Rovers, and inside they found Farnell holding a meeting with Dave Jones, who it was rumoured Farnell was intending to bring into the club, possibly in a similar role to the one he had at Bury FC during Farnell’s involvement there. 

On 10 August Farnell & A. Mihail both resigned as directors of ESI following their failure to pass the EFL directors’ test.  Sun journalist Justin Allen seemed a bit surprised“Chris Farnell stepping down as a director of Charlton’s owners ESI today is a bit of a turn-up. Club will clarify his position at #CAFC this evening. #EFL” 
“I’ve received clarification regarding Chris Farnell. In a nutshell, he’s resigned his position as a director of ESI but remains as #Charlton club lawyer. I’m told he’s never been a director of the Addicks nor acted on behalf of any buyer or seller. #EFL 

“It’s claimed he joined ESI as a director only to enable the orderly running of the club, following concerns raised by Tahnoon Nimer…“

Was this the same Farnell who was employed by Nimer (the seller), and was now working on EFL liaison and subsequentlyan appeal concerning Elliott (the buyer)?  Two days later on 12 August there were multiple reports that Charlton Athletic was no longer employing him as its lawyer.  

On 14 August former club journalist Benjy Nurick gave an interesting update:

“Alright, Addicks, who wants a Range Rover update? (Is Range-Rover-Gate too much?)  Well, there are still at least two RRs on the loose, one in Chris Farnell’s possession and the other with Dave Jones.” 

“Matt Southall (remember him?), as director of ESI, sent letters to Farnell and Jones demanding the Range Rovers be returned to The Valley.  Southall hired a Midlands-based Logistics company, to collect the cars.
Now is where things really get interesting… ”
 

“Two employees of the logistics company went to Dave Jones’house to retrieve RR1.
They spoke with Jones for 45 mins. He refused to return the car, saying he was buying it from Elliott (who of course, is not an owner/director of ESI/CAFC per Companies House)”

“Jones also told the employees of the logistics company that he did not need to return the Range Rover as Elliott would be confirmed as owner next week [I’d take that confirmation with one massive pinch of salt.]”  

“Farnell, meanwhile, also refused to return his Range Rover, stating that it was a gift from Elliott.
So where does that leave things?  Well, Jones and Farnell, who both have no involvement with the club, each have of one of the infamous Ranger Rovers.”
 

So Farnell, who at the time he received the Range Rover (pre 7 August) was Charlton Athletic FC’s lawyer and therefore responsible to the then owner Nimer, accepted from would-be owner Elliott the gift of a very expensive car, which Elliott did not actually own?  This sounds so very wrong on multiple levels.


It is also speculated that Farnell had involvement in formulating the wording of the court injunction prepared by his firm IPS Law for Lex Dominus (the company Elliott took over from Farnell in June 2020, seeking to prevent Nimer’s company Panorama Magic selling East Street Investments (then the holding company of Charlton Athletic FC).  Unfortunately for would-be CAFC owner Paul Elliott and Lex Dominus, the wording of the injunction (eventually granted by the Court of Appeal) did not prevent ESI from selling Charlton Athletic to Thomas Sandgaard – oops!  

The case Lex Dominus v. Panorama Magic was heard by Judge Pearce In Manchester Civil Court, sitting virtually on 1 September 2020.  In the course of the case, it was made clear Farnell had connections with both parties to the case. At the start of his judgement, the Judge expressed the opinion that Farnell’s conduct gave rise to questions whether he was conflicted.  Following this a second fan contacted the SRA to register a further complaint against Farnell.  Later, the fan complainants were informed their complaints had been combined with a third Charlton-related complaint which is understood to have been raised by a firm of solicitors, and that enquiries were in progress.  After over 18 months the two Charlton fans who had submitted complaints received notification that their complaints had not been upheld. They were apparently given some explanation for the decision but forbidden from discussing it publicly.