Dejphon Chansiri guilty of blackmailing Sheffield Wednesday's loyal fanbase - Stuart Rayner
Sheffield Wednesday's owner has asked supporters to lend him £2m.
Chansiri wants £100 from 20,000 fans. He will pay them back with interest when he gets the chance. How and on what terms is not clear.
If only there were 20,000 Wednesday fans with a spare £100 to bail out a millionaire businessman having cashflow problems. This is how detached some football club owners are from reality.
And if the money is not forthcoming?
The club's unpaid tax bill might stay that way for a while longer yet.
Oh, and the players might not get paid this month – at least not in full.
If both are not addressed by November 10 or just one by the 21st, the current transfer embargo will be set in stone for the next three windows, denying new manager Danny Rohl, who guided the Owls to their first victory of the season on Sunday, January signings to address the issues in the bottom-of-the-Championship squad he inherited.
If they are, everything is fine. Until the next time. This is not the first.
The football Rohl's side played in his Hillsborough debut, not to mention the identity of the opposition – Rotherham United are close by geographically and in the table – gave real encouragement.
Chansiri's ability to kill even the brightest of moods is uncanny.
"If we don’t pay (the HMRC bill) in 30 days we have a big issue. If you want to save your club, this is your chance. If not, we will get a transfer ban over three windows, there’s a possibility we will go to League Two or the National League."
What Chansiri has never been able to understand is how supporters can want influence without putting their money where their mouths are.
"Don’t call yourselves the owners and me the custodian," is a familiar refrain from him.
Actually, that sentence can be shorted considerably: What Chansiri has never been able to understand is supporters.
He must love football to have ploughed so much money into it during his stewardship, and to have taken on all the pressures and criticisms with it. But he does not understand it.
He should read Leeds United manager Daniel Farke's comments in Saturday's Yorkshire Post. He should have listened to Rohl's wonderment at the hundreds of fans who stayed at the end of Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at Plymouth Argyle to encourage his players.
These are the people he is blackmailing with talk of embargos and National League football.
I can absolutely guarantee that if collectively or individually any of those supporters had the cash lying around to buy Chansiri out, plus the millions on top needed to make the Owls competitive in the Championship, they would make the offer he is angling for in a heartbeat.
But unlike Chansiri they were not blessed to be born into a family reckoned to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The sacrifices they make are to pay some of the second tier's most exorbitant ticket prices, to buy some of its most expensive shirts, to travel to Plymouth on a wet Tuesday night.
Any sane person knows they do not need a £65 shirt not much different to the ones they buy every year, or to schlep to Plymouth as much out of a sense of duty as excitement, but we are dealing with addicts. Without them and others without the same money/time/spousal patience who go to their own limits out of blind devotion, football may as well pack up and go home.
They deserve more than our respect, they deserve people like Chansiri bending over backwards to thank them.
They deserve a new owner but getting the right one is so difficult because football is broken.
A club with Sheffield Wednesday's fanbase and prestige ought to be able to generate enough money not to need millionaires propping it up, making it susceptible to blackmail.
Chansiri has projected obscene amounts of money up the wall but it is not like he has a team of Championship Galacticos to show for it or a vanity of a stadium, it has been to try to keep the club's head above water in a division they ought to have been at the other end of.
Clubs owned by fans rather than egomaniacs who plaster their names across the seats or shirts feels like utopia. It can work at lower levels but has a very low glass ceiling.
When a multi-millionaire is begging for £2m, when a Saudi prince cannot give Sheffield United a competitive budget in England's top division or even sell them, when an Italian businessman has to sell Leeds United to a disparate consortium of American businessman and sports stars because he "doesn’t have the wealth to compete in the Premier League", where Championship-level gates are not enough to make Bradford City League Two's richest club and when one with York City's history cannot throw its weight around in the Conference at the same time the Premier League is discussing how much more it can wring out of its next television deal beyond the £5bn it made from the last one, something is seriously wrong.
Sheffield Wednesday badly need a new owner. English football badly needs a system which does not leave it exposed to blackmail like this.