Owls ready to welcome new owner Chansiri

Milan Mandaric.
Milan Mandaric.
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Sheffield Wednesday’s £30m takeover deal is set to gain Football League approval.

Ratification of Dejphon Chansiri’s deal to buy out Owls owner Milan Mandaric has been agreed, and The Yorkshire Post understands last-minute paperwork is being concluded.

An announcement could come today that the Football League have rubber-stamped the deal, which would clear the way for Thai businessman Chansiri to complete his takeover.

The Owls yesterday sent out invitations for a Hillsborough press conference on Monday morning, where Mandaric and Chansiri will be in attendance.

Wednesday’s new owners are due to fly in to England today, ahead of attending tomorrow’s home game against Yorkshire 
rivals Middlesbrough.

Yesterday saw the Owls publish their latest set of financial figures for the year ending May 2014.

Wednesday’s operating losses increased by £1.5m to £5.4m in 2013-14.

Attendances dropped by 12 per cent, nearly 3,000, from an average league crowd of 24,078 in 2012-13 to 21,274 last season.

Season ticket sales also declined, from 16,526 to 15,305, while the wage bill increased from £11.9m to £12.5m.

Mandaric hopes the arrival of ambitious Chansiri will see fans return to Hillsborough.

“I was extremely disappointed by our reduction in turnover which was due to the fall in revenue associated with the drop in attendance we suffered during the season,” said Mandaric.

“I do hope, with the potential new investment in both the squad and the stadium from Dejphon Chansiri, supporters will back the club and our attendance figures will once again start to improve.”

Mandaric called the 2013-14 season a “challenging campaign”, when he sacked Dave Jones and handed the job to Stuart Gray.

“Although not to universal approval, I was convinced he was the best man for the difficult task of turning our season around,” said Mandaric.

“Following Stuart’s appointment the team took a very creditable 42 points from 30 games – the opening 16 games under Dave produced a mere 11 points – doubling the average points per game with very little change to the squad.”

The outgoing Owls chairman said winning promotion from League One was the highlight of his four years at Hillsborough, but revealed his upset at missing out on a Steel City derby last season in the FA Cup.

Wednesday flopped at home to Charlton in the FA Cup fifth round, missing out on a prized quarter-final tie against Sheffield United.

“This was probably the most disappointing result of the season for me, in front of our own home fans I did hope for a better performance.”

Tuesday’s 3-1 win at Millwall – which ended a seven-match winless run – means pressure has eased on Gray.

The Owls’ head coach has already met Chansiri to discuss new signings, and emphasise the need for Wednesday to improve their stadium, pitch and training ground.

Now Gray is hoping he can sit down with the new owners over the weekend and start planning for next season and beyond.

With 14 players due to be out of contract in the summer, it promises to be a busy off-season with Chansiri eager of a return to the Premier League after a 15-year exile.

“The owners are coming over (today), so hopefully we can sit down and discuss short-term and long-term (plans),” said Gray.

“The first meeting was just about recruitment, trying to strengthen the team. Things off the pitch too, regarding the pitch and the training facilities as well.”

New recruit Sergiu Bus is out for a month with a groin injury, after injuring himself in the pre-match warm-up at Derby.

Gray has denied making a move for Leicester City’s striker Chris Wood, but is keen on his Foxes team-mate, winger Anthony Knockaert.

On interest in Wood, Gray confirmed: “That was at the start of the season, we haven’t been back to them. I think they are probably wanting something more permanent for the player.

“It was one we pursued, but Nigel (Pearson) didn’t let him out at the time, so we just have to carry on and keep knocking (on doors).”

Knockaert – who this week rejected a loan move to Ipswich Town – would bring extra width to Wednesday’s midfield, an area Gray is keen to strengthen.

“I have always liked the boy,” said Gray. “He scored a great goal against us last season at their place. He’s proven he can get goals in the Championship. We are always interested in good players.”

One player Gray will be hoping to convince Chansiri has a long-term future at Wednesday is on-loan midfielder Lewis McGugan.

The 26-year-old has scored in back-to-back games, at Championship leaders Derby County and Millwall, and impressed in his second loan spell from Watford.

Nearing full fitness, Gray knows the value of a goalscoring midfielder to any team.

“We knew there were goals in him, he’s been disappointed,” said Gray. “The pleasing thing is his CV shows he is a goalscoring midfielder.

“It’s not a fluke, he has scored over 40-odd goals (in his career) so let’s hope he goes on a run now.”