Sheffield Wednesday: Mixed emotions for Mandaric

Owls chairman Milan Mandaric alongside Dejphon Chansiri.
Owls chairman Milan Mandaric alongside Dejphon Chansiri.

Outgoing chairman Milan Mandaric has admitted he felt a mixture of sadness and pride after agreeing to sell the club to Thai businessman Dejphon Chansiri.

Mandaric, who has been in charge since December 2010, has been in takeover discussions for several months with a Thai-based investor and is confident he is leaving Wednesday in “good hands”.

Chansiri, whose family owns Thai Union Frozen Group, which owns John West Foods and is the world’s largest producer of tuna, watched the Owls’ goalless draw with Birmingham City from the directors’ box at Hillsborough. Chansiri has acquired a 100 per cent stake in the Championship club and has already provided the funds to bring in Will Keane and Lewis Baker on loan this month.

Mandaric described Thursday as an ‘emotional day,’, saying: “It (the takeover) was not an easy decision but I think it was the right one for the club and for the fans.

“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.

“I’m very happy and proud of what I have done for Sheffield Wednesday. I promised that when I left I would have secured their financial future and I can look the fans in the eye and say that I have done that. I have worked very hard and given everything I could.

“The club is in good shape and is in good hands.”

Chansiri will formally take charge once Football League ratification has been approved and Mandaric will step down as chairman and director.

“I’m going to be stepping down as chairman in maybe the next 30 days and as a director but I will be friends forever with the fans,” said Mandaric. “I will never forget their loyalties.. I’m happy for the fans. I’ve done my job and they’ve done theirs. We will always be friends.”

Chansiri said he is “excited” at the prospect of succeeding Mandaric, promising to help the club fulfill its “huge potential”.

“My son Att, who was a mascot at the recent Blackpool game, is passionate about football and I know will be my inspiration in this project,” said Chansiri. “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.

“Milan [Mandaric] 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.”

Of the new owners, Mandaric said: “They are incredibly people and financially very strong. They have a big desire to go to the Premier League and they want to put money into the club. They’re not here to stay in the Championship. They are very happy with the structure and stability of the club but they will move it to the next step.

“I didn’t sell the club for the money or because I have to leave, I sold it because these people are more aggressive financially and they will do the job.”

Mandaric hopes to step on to the field before kick-off when Wednesday entertain Cardiff City a week on Saturday to bid a fond farewell to the Owls supporters.

“I would like to step on the field in the next game and say goodbye to my friends,” he said. “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.”

Owls boss Stuart Gray has welcomed the buyout and is looking forward to sitting down with Chansiri and discussing his playing budget and the football operation.

“It’s a really positive movement and we can all look forward to the future,” he said.

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