Dom Howson column: New owner must splash cash on the training ground

Dejphon Chansiri
Dejphon Chansiri

His knowledge of the beautiful game maybe limited.

But new Owls owner Dejphon Chansiri made it crystal clear in his press conference on Monday that he wants to restore the Championship club to their former glories.

The Thai businessman made a good first impression, saying all the right things. He plans to grow the club in a “healthy” and “sustainable manner”, targeting promotion to the Premier League within the next two years to coincide with their 150th anniversary in 2017.

Having purchased them independently through his own funds, Chansiri stressed that he will respect the rich heritage and tradition of Sheffield Wednesday and that he is in it for the long haul.

Ultimately, Chansiri’s actions will speak louder than his words.

One of Chansiri’s main tasks should be to address the club’s Middlewood Road training ground complex. Head coach Stuart Gray told me: “The training ground looks a bit tired and needs to be brought up to 2015. I’m a great believer if you get the working environment right, it can pay dividends and our training ground is where we do most of our work on Monday to Friday.”

When you compare Wednesday’s facilities to other Championship clubs such as Derby County and Blackburn, they are chalk and cheese.

When the wintry weather gripped South Yorkshire earlier this year, there were some days when Wednesday could not get on the grass due to their pitches being frozen. That deeply frustrated Gray, who is not a huge fan of their indoor training dome, which is regularly used by the club’s academy.

As a result of the bad weather, Wednesday would occasionally train at Hillsborough. I suspect those sessions where the players practiced at the ground did not help the state of the much maligned pitch.

I know the Owls’ training ground and pitch was a real culture shock for Lewis Baker and Will Keane when they first joined Gray’s revolution. That’s why it was encouraging to see Chansiri confirm he will spend £1m on a brand new pitch at Hillsborough this summer.

If they want to attract quality players and push for promotion, Chansiri must continue to splash the cash off the field.

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