SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY’S prospective new owner Dejphon Chansiri has pledged to lead the club back to the Premier League after agreeing terms on a £30m takeover.
The Thai businessman has bought out Milan Mandaric’s 100 per cent shareholding following several weeks of talks.
Chansiri, whose family firm is one of the largest worldwide sea-food producers, will formally take full charge once Football League approval has been granted. In the meantime, he will become involved with the day-to-day running of the Championship club.
As an act of good faith during the protracted negotiations, the club’s new owner-in-waiting has already provided the funds that allowed head coach Stuart Gray to recently bring Premier League duo, Will Keane and Lewis Baker, to Hillsborough.
Now in full charge, the Thai businessman is hoping to make further additions before the transfer window slams shut at 11pm on Monday.
The Owls, handily placed just outside the play-off places despite having the joint lowest goals tally in the Championship, are keen on securing the return of Watford’s Lewis McGugan, while Leicester City striker Chris Wood has also understood to have been on the club’s radar.
Wednesday’s new owner said: “I am very excited at the prospect of taking over control from Milan.
“I believe this club has huge potential and I can assure all our supporters that I will be working extremely hard to bring the success that I already sense from my short time in your city our supporters so desperately crave.”
“My son, Att, who was a mascot at the recent Blackpool game, is passionate about football and I know (he) will be my inspiration in this project.
“I have made the same promise to him as I do our supporters, he will not let me forget this until we are back in the Premier League.”
On the possibility of Gray adding to his squad during the final few days of the window, Chansiri added: “I was very pleased to help Milan with his plans to strengthen the squad (by signing Baker and Keane).
“I am hopeful that now everything is agreed, we can work together to bring in additions to the team before the end of the transfer window.
“We haven’t got long but we will all work very hard to strengthen the team for the second half of the season.”
News of potential interest in Wednesday from Thailand first broke early this year.
Since the collapse of the planned buy-out by Azerbaijani businessman Hafiz Mammadov in September, Mandaric had been involved in talks with several parties. Chansiri, however, quickly emerged as the most serious bidder and yesterday’s confirmation that a deal had been struck was followed by Mandaric revealing he would step down as chairman once everything has been ratified.
League approval is now the final hurdle to clear before Chansiri’s takeover can be completed. No firm time-scale can be given for that process, due to the governing body treating each case on its individual merits and it being down to the clubs to provide the correct information.
Providing there are no late problems, Chansiri will inherit a club in much healthier shape than it was when Mandaric took charge in December, 2010.
Back then, Wednesday had been flirting with financial ruin for several months and it took the arrival of the one-time Portsmouth owner to steady matters.
Promotion from League One followed in 2012 as the Owls pipped Steel City neighbours United to second place.
Steady progress has since been made, as shown by the ninth place occupied by the South Yorkshire club after spending much of last season fighting relegation.
To push on, however, in a division where 10 of the 24 member clubs this season benefit from parachute payments as former members of the Premier League, Mandaric – who is understood to have covered annual losses of £5-6m – admitted fresh investment was needed.
Chansiri’s task now is to provide that financial help to propel Wednesday back towards a division the club last competed in almost 15 years ago.
Mandaric said: “From the first time I met Dejphon, I felt he was the right person for this fantastic club. His business expertise and passion made him stand out from the other interested parties that I have spoken to since I announced that Mr Mammadov could no longer fulfil his obligation to purchase the club.”
On his future role as an adviser to the new owners, Mandaric added: “In my four years in Sheffield, I have come to regard this city as my home and desperately want to be a part of the journey we all started together when I arrived, which I am sure will ultimately see our club back in the Premier League very soon.”
Chansiri joined Mandaric in the directors box on Tuesday, when the Owls were held to a 0-0 draw by Birmingham City.
He added: “Milan has been a wonderful owner of the club, taking over at a very difficult time and guiding it out of League One and handing it over with much still to play for this season in the Championship.
“I am pleased he has agreed to remain a supporter of the club, I am sure with his football knowledge and business expertise he will be of invaluable help to me.”
Thank you Milan: Page 26.