Jeremy Helan is urging Sheffield Wednesday’s fans to give outgoing chairman Milan Mandaric a hero’s reception against Cardiff City.
It was just a week ago Mandaric agreed to sell the Owls for £30m to Thailand businessman Dejphon Chansiri, bringing an end to his four-year stint as owner of the Championship club.
Mandaric plans to step down as chairman and as a director once Chansiri’s buyout has been approved by the Football League. However, he will remain at Hillsborough in an advisory role and will address Owls supporters on the pitch prior to kick-off versus Cardiff as part of ‘Thank You Milan Day’. Wednesday fans have been asked to be seated by 2.45pm to bid a fond farewell to Mandaric.
Since rescuing the Owls from financial trouble four years ago, Mandaric has invested his time, money and resources into turning around their fortunes. Results have improved, culminating in promotion from the third-tier of English football in 2012, pipping cross-city neighbours Sheffield United to the second automatic promotion spot, and have finished 18th and 16th respectively in the last two Championship seasons. The club are currently 10th.
Helan claims Wednesday owe a debt of gratitude to Mandaric and hopes he will get a big ovation.
The Frenchman told The Star: “He [Mandaric] came in and saved the club and got us promoted. He played a big part in the promotion.
“He has always been there even when we had bad form and were fighting for relegation. He never gave up. He has always backed his managers from Dave Jones to Stuart Gray. I think Wednesday fans and Sheffield people appreciate what he’s done for the club and will give him a good reception.”
On the prospect of bidding a fond farewell to the Sheffield public, Mandaric 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.”
Following the confirmation of Chansiri’s takeover, Gray also paid tribute to Mandaric, admitting he is “very grateful” to have been tasked with the responsibility to bring the good times back to the Hillsborough outfit.
“Milan is a football man,” said Gray, who could be without Jose Semedo (toe) for the clash against Cardiff. “He can be quite demanding sometimes when results aren’t going the right way but he cares about the football club
“It will be a big loss when he finally leaves Sheffield Wednesday.”
Chansiri, whose family firm is one of the largest worldwide sea-food producers, has already become involved with the day-to-day running of Wednesday and watched the team slide to a 2-0 defeat at Reading last weekend.
“The takeover can only be a good thing,” said Helan. “There are going to be changes. New owners mean changes.
“People will have to be patient to see what the next step will be. We will probably know more after this season.”
Helan, brought on as a half-time replacement versus the Royals, is confident the Owls can force themselves back into the play-off picture if they can go on a good consistent run.
“We need to start winning to put pressure on the teams above us,” he said. “We need some good results.
“We are in mid-table but I think, and so does everybody in the changing room, that we can do better than that.”