Tahnoon Nimer (NB spelling varies due to different transliteration systems from original Arabic to Latin script)
According to Companies House, Tahnoon Nemer Al Nasirat was born May 1976, is Syrian, and his country of residence is the United Arab Emirates. In January 2020 his correspondence address was 86 Oud Al Tauba, Street, Pob 17025. Al Alain, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. At Charlton Athletic he was generally known as Tahnoon Nimer.
This information is consistent with an image of Nimer’s Syrian passport in a Romanian newspaper article about the Charlton take-over. The passport says he was born 07/05/1976 in the U.A.E. (which is consistent with the claim on the ADBD website that Nimer was born in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates) and his mother’s name was Mariam. The article further says sources claim “he is the illegitimate son of one of the sheikhs of the Al Nahyan family, the influential ruling family. from the United Arab Emirates,” and names the sheikhs.
There is a lack of independent sources concerning Nimer’s role in the take-over and his actions as owner of CAFC. Most information is, either directly or indirectly, from Nimer himself or from Southall and his supporters. However, it is plausible that he was brought into the scheme to buy CAFC to be a figurehead to attract further investment, since it seemed none of the others had the funds needed to run a successful Championship team (as CAFC then was).
It is understood that in 2020, solicitor Chris Farnell told our source that two men he knew, Chris Gascoine and John Hirst, had visited his office about 3 years earlier and told him they knew some very wealthy men in Abu Dhabi who wanted to buy a big PL club, with Liverpool being the top target. They wanted to ask how you go about doing it. Farnell told the source he did a bit of due diligence on the names they mentioned, one of which was Tahnoon Nimer. Farnell did some preliminary work on this deal but nothing came of it and the group did not pay his bill. Our source said Farnell claimed he tried to contact some of the group about this bill and Nimer replied to say sorry but it was Gascoine’s responsibility. The source reported he was told that nothing more was heard until November 2019, when Hirst and Jacco Van Seventer visited Farnell and asked him very general questions about how you would go about buying a club. No names or clubs were mentioned and Farnell heard no more about it for a few weeks until he read that East Street Investments had agreed a deal to buy Charlton. [private email]
Nimer introduced himself to Charlton fans on the CAFC Official Site with a truncated version of his biography on the Dec 2019 version of the ADBD website (now deleted), little of which we have been able to independently verify, apart from the final sentence. It reads:
HIS EXCELLENCY TAHNOON NIMER (Director) – H.E Tahnoon Nimer is the Chairman of Abu Dhabi Business Development, the private office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, and oversees the running of more than 60 companies including energy, insurance, broadcasting, shipping and sports businesses.
He has strong ties with governments and multi-nationals across the globe and has a track record of supporting emerging businesses. In 2018, he was named as a Global Ambassador for Peace.
His Excellency is the majority shareholder in East Street Investments through his Abu Dhabi based corporation, Panorama Magic General Contracting LLC, and will form part of the new Charlton Athletic board.
Most of Nimer’s other public communications were via cryptic Instagram messages, but he did give the following interview on TalkSport on 12 March 2020, shortly after the row between him and Southall became public. In it he acknowledged he had not passed the EFL’s Source & Sufficiency of Funds Test, and stated he would not be putting money into CAFC while Southall was involved. Judged by the interview, Nimer’s spoken English appeared far better than his unedited written English on social media, but reports from people who spoke to him during his visit to England in February 2020 suggest he was not fluent. Listening carefully to the ambient sound in the interview it seems possible Nimer was reading a prepared statement, into which Jim White’s questions were later edited.
The standard of Nimer’s English gave fans reasons to doubt the claim on the now-closed 2019 ADBD website that he “completed his academic studies with several degrees in Business Administration and Communication in the United States as well as graduating from Universities of several other countries”. In Jan/Feb 2021, during a visit to Argentina, he styled himself as “Dr. Nimer” This appears to be on the basis of an “Honorary Doctorat” (sic), awarded by the North American Middle East Centre for Culture, the certificate for which is shown on this press release, along with his most recent certificate as a World Peace Ambassador. This raises the question whether his US academic “qualifications” were earned through study, or bought.
Nimer was a business associate of van Seventer, Gascoine, and Hirst since 2014, as shown on “Wayback” historic versions of ADBD websites. Heller did not join ADBD until 2019, when he was described on the website as CEO.
|June 8th 2014
|Gascoine, Alexander, Wright, Nemer, Hirst, Freeman, Vernekar, van Seventer, Zetterstrom, McQillan are listed on this version from 2014. This may be when the original website was developed as there are no Wayback machine snapshots before 2014. The picture of John Hirst is clearly incorrect; it is showing Chris Gascoine.
|19th August 2014
|Nemer, Al-Maamari, Gascoine, van Seventer, Alexander, Nangle, Verekar, Wright, Freeman, McQuillan, Zetterstrom
|16th August 2015
|Nemer, Al-Maamari, Gascoine, van Seventer, Alexander, Nangle, Wright, McQuillan, Zetterstrom Seren Zetterstrom went on to marry Jacco van Seventer
|15th October 2016
|Tahnoon Nemer (Al Ain, Abu Dhabi, UAE), Sultan Al-Maamari (Abu Dhabi, UAE), Chris Gascoine (Notts, UK), Nick Alexander (London, UK), Jacco van Seventer (Cheshire, UK), Bipin Vernekar (India), Colin Wright (Australia), Sally Mcquillan (Notts UK), HR
|27th May 2018
|Chris Gascoine (Director Real Estate, Planning, Property investment, Projects) Tahnoon Nemer (Director Abu Dhabi Relations, Projects, Recruitment services) Jacco van Seventer (Director Commodities, Planning, Projects) Thomas Campbell (Director Commodities, Projects, Planning) Nick Alexander (Commodities, Finance, Planning, Funds), John Hirst (Commodities, Finance, Planning, Investments, Structures)
East Street Investments and Charlton Athletic F.C.
East Street Investments was set up by Michael Blood of JMW Solicitors on 13 November 2019, apparently for the purpose of taking over CAFC. Nimer, Southall and Heller took control of ESI on 2 January 2020. Southall was minority owner, and the majority owner was Panorama Magic General Contracting LLC, based in Abu Dhabi, of which Nimer was joint owner.
Southall and, to a lesser extent, Heller appear to have been the main sources for two articles in Romanian newspaper Gazeta Sporturilor, which gives their perspective on Nimer’s part in the ownership. In the first article Southall claimed that he and Nimer each paid £1 for CAFC, and that Nimer entered into a bond with the previous owner, Roland Duchâtelet, for£50M for the real estate assets (stadium and training ground), to be paid within 5 years. The plan was to move the stadium to a new site on Greenwich Peninsula, with the club ground-sharing while the new stadium was built, thereby freeing the existing stadium site for high-density building. Details such as the stadium site (The Valley) having no planning permission for change of use, and that an application for such change was likely to be vigorously opposed, were not mentioned.
The £50M personal guarantee Nimer had entered into must surely have been a concern for him when the partnership fell apart. It is therefore curious that there was no mention of it, even in the various subsequent court cases concerning the sale of ESI to Elliott’s consortium. In the end, it is understood that Sandgaard resolved the issue through the agreement he reached with Duchâtelet, which got Nimer off the hook.
Funding of the club
There is no evidence that ESI put any money into CAFC. This was confirmed by new owner Thomas Sandgaard on 2 October 2020: “Since December or January no money has been put into the club,” he told the South London Press. “It was basically running with money from the EFL and some sponsorship money.”
Since Nimer never passed the EFL’s test for the source of his funds, this was perhaps unsurprising. However there is information and documentation that strongly suggests he took money out. Some was via a club credit card, as leaked to the Romanian press by Southall.
The first Romanian newspaper article included an image of a communication from an Egyptian bank which was supposedly Nimer’s proof of source and sufficiency of funds for the EFL. The second article contained an image of a bank statement which Nimer then submitted. Again, this was reported as being considered to be insufficient by the EFL. On 10 Mar 2020, the English Football League (EFL) confirmed that it had imposed an embargo on transfers to the Charlton club in January because the new investors did not show the source of the money to be injected into the club.
On 9 Mar 2020 Southall posted a statement on the CAFC Official site, rebutting claims Nimer had made about him in a letter to senior members of the management.. During the evening of 9 Mar 2020, Nimer posted messages on Instagram in which he veiledly accused Matt Southall of “exploiting” the financial resources of the Charlton club. He also posted a voice message, “Your Chairman had ripped the club with his team. I’m not happy to give my money to the people to rip this money. The club guys, and they take all the money for them, to live a nice bread (?), to get a Range Rovers and use the money for the bitches. You should ask Matt Southwell (sic). Guys, he cheat you. He take all the money which I put in the club and it has been gone for his lifestyle.”, which was shared here
Southall answered, accusing Nimer of not “investing a penny” in the Charlton club and of not providing the League (EFL) with proof of the origin of the promised funds.
On 10 Mar 2020, CAFC officially announced the resignation of Tahnoon Nimer from the position of director. Nimer replied on his Twitter account that he has not resigned, but that he would not invest in the club until the executive director Matt Southall was removed.
Once Nimer had fallen out with Southall, he could no longer post statements on the CAFC Official Site, because Southall had control of it. Instead, he posted a 3-page statement on Instagram, giving his side of the situation, blaming the difficulties with the EFL on mismanagement of the club, and funding difficulties on extravagant spending on luxuries by “the chairman” (ie. Southall). He made clear he would not be investing any funds until Southall left [IMAGE 008]
Events following Nimer-Southall fall-out
Nimer appointed Chris Farnell of IPS Law to act for him (JMW Solicitors were the club’s lawyers). Farnell appeared as his spokesman on TalkSport on 11 Mar 2020, making the following points: Funds have been proven to the EFL. It’s been quickly found out there are some serious issues to be addressed. Investment will be made when required and not on the whim of Mr Southall.
Nimer authorised Farnell to serve papers suspending Chairman Southall, Director Heller, and Finance Director McHugh; these were served at The Valley on the evening of 12 Mar 2020. This was observed from the carpark by Farnell, who refused to enter the building to serve them in person, and by Louis Mendez, who posted pictures on Twitter. The Daily Mail covered the story (2 articles). An interview with staff members and an independent observer who were present at the time was later made public.
Richard Cawley (reporter for SLP) tweeted on 17 Mar 2020 that JMW Solicitors were no longer acting for the club: “Just had confirmation that JMW are no longer the club’s lawyers. Had been employed by ESI in takeover negotiations. They say decision to step away was because of “lack of cogent instruction from the board”.”
Cawley thought JMW had been replaced by Nimer’s lawyer, Farnell of IPS Law; this was eventually confirmed by Marian Mihail on 24 Apr 2020.
It was announced on the CAFC official site, that Southall and Heller had been removed from the Club’s board of directors by ESI (ie by Nimer as major shareholder through Panorama Magic) and replaced by Marian Michail, a Romanian lawyer, and Claudiu Florica, businessman of dubious background and an associate of Nimer.
Having brought auditors into the club to look at the books, on 23 Mar 2020 Nimer sent a series of Instagram posts detailing moneys paid out by the club to Southall and a raft of advisers, along with a summary showing how approximately £1.8M had been spent on items unrelated to the first team or transfers [IMAGE 009].
On 31 Mar 2020, Nimer and the two new directors declared the club was not for sale. Fresh documentation had been provided to the EFL for Nimer’s Source and Sufficiency of Funds Test, and for the two new men’s Owners’ and Directors’ Tests.
ESI is sold – or is it?
4 May 2020 brought confirmation Marian Michail & Claudiu Florica had passed the EFL O&D Test. Four days later, Mihail confirmed to CAST that Nimer had still put no money into the club; he was still awaiting a resolution to the situation re Southall. Then on 22 May 2020 it was announced that ESI, and with it the Club, had been sold.
On 3 Jun 2020, editor of Voice of the Valley fanzine, Rick Everitt, revealed trusted ex-CEO Peter Varney and businessman Andrew Barclay have been trying to buy the club Varney told VOTV: ”Andrew [Barclay] is keen to do a deal. However, we need to be able to negotiate with the current ESI majority shareholder, Tahnoon Nimer, through his lawyer, and from there with Roland Duchatelet or his representative, which so far we have been unable to do.”
The next day, CAST got in touch with Mihail to discuss the Varney/Barclay news. “We made sure Mihail was very aware of the high regard among #cafc fans for @PeterVarney”. His response begins: “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.” The rest of the email can be seen on the CAST website. This obviously led to further questions…
Rick Everitt: “#cafc 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: “The statement put out by Mihail today is misleading, as I have been in contact with Chris Farnell (Nimer’s lawyer) for two months.”
Speculation reported on Forum: So, is Mihail lying, or is Farnell keeping him and Nimer in the dark while he manoeuvres his preferred buyers? What does Farnell stand to gain? Being paid by both sellers and “preferred” buyers?
Farnell’s answer was … unexpected: “Mr Waghorn, I always enjoy my conversations with Mr Varney and I did speak with him previously and again within the last week. There has not been any discussion of ownership.”
On 10 Jun 2020 Nimer made a statement on the official site about handing the club over to a consortium. It later emerged during the Lex Dominus v. Panorama Magic court hearings that the amount payable (but not actually paid!) for the club was £1. It was widely assumed by fans that this had been a manoeuvre by Nimer to deny Southall any benefit from the sale. The next day, Paul Elliott was introduced to the fans as the public face of the consortium of new owners.
On 10/11 July 2020, Southall altered the Companies House records for ESI, changing its registered address to Manchester, and “resigning” 5 directors, including Nimer. These changes were all reversed on 14/15 July following legal action. There was then a court case ESI v. Southall held remotely on 17 July in the High Court, Manchester, which resulted in costs of £17,500 +VAT to be paid by Southall, but also established that Elliott and his consortium did not own ESI. Nimer does not appear to have been directly involved in bringing the case.
From this point onwards we have no sourced material on NImer’s involvement with CAFC. He was not even mentioned in the Lex Dominus (Elliott) v. Panorama Magic (Nimer) Civil Court injunction case on 1 September 2020 and Appeal on 17 September 2020. Marian Mihail appeared to be acting as Nimer’s representative in giving information to Panorama Magic’s barrister.
It is not known if Thomas Sandgaard dealt directly with Nimer to secure the purchase of CAFC from ESI, or entirely with Marian Mihail. Social media made reference to Nimer having ‘fled” to Syria, and after the sale, driving an expensive new car.
|008 – 10 Mar 2020 – Nimer’s 3-page statement on Instagram (looks like someone else translated for him)
|009 – Nimer reports to fans outcome of initial audit 23 Mar 2020 (4 screenshots)