Alan Biggs: Owls takeover almost complete and Gray is staying, says Milan

Alan Biggs
Alan Biggs
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Milan Mandaric expects the club’s new regime to be up and running around this time next week.

And, talking exclusively to Sheffield Telegraph, the Owls outgoing owner confirms today that Stuart Gray is STAYING as head coach.

Milan Mandaric

Milan Mandaric

Mandaric also hints at “additions” to the management team and says the club is gearing up to take a “more aggressive” approach to delayed recruitment plans.

First, with Gray back from holiday, his job is assured with the blessing of Azerbaijani takeover tycoon Hafiz Mammadov.

Mandaric tells me: “I’m quite sure Stuart is staying and will be given a proper chance. That is my recommendation and Hafiz is a very sensible person. Stuart deserves it.”

But Mandaric, who has long intended to appoint a director of football, intriguingly added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if there were certain additions to the management.” It was said as a plural.

Stuart Gray

Stuart Gray

Gray is in “long talks” with the chairman. “Stuart was told in advance to come in with a list of players, a very competitive list,” added Mandaric, who is pressing ahead regardless of Football League red tape on ratifying Mammadov’s £40m buy-out.

“We have to assume it goes through and I have no doubt,” he insisted. “We can’t wait for the League. We have to go forward. It’s important we have a very good season. I know supporters are desperate. We are all desperate at the club as well. There are some priorities on assembling the team and we are quietly working on that.”

Securing out-of-contract players Chris Kirkland, Glenn Loovens, Jose Semedo and Onyewu Oguchi is also a huge priority. “We need to be more aggressive there, more active,” Mandaric admits. “The ball is in the agents’ court at the moment.”

That suggests offers might be improved along with the Mammadov investment. The takeover deal itself is a formality, Mandaric maintains, but involves a mountain of paperwork.

“It’s not simple,” he stresses. “We are in the process of preparing all documents and a representative of Hafiz is due here by the end of the week. We also need to prepare budgets. Hafiz is a proper man and there is nothing I can foresee that can go wrong. I suspect it will all go through some time next week.”

If that’s frustrating, it could be described as a very necessary evil.

As one who’s called for tighter controls on club ownership, I can hardly join those accusing the League of dragging their feet.

They have shut many a stable door after a horse has bolted. Sometimes clubs and supporters need protecting from themselves.

Not that this is the case here.

So, as frustrated as this journalist also became when he was given a “no update and no timescale” line from the League this week, you can’t have it both ways. But in

Wednesday’s case it would appear to be purely routine – a refreshing word in that it is rarely associated with this particular club!