Sheffield Wednesday: Takeover issues no worry for Stuart Gray

Sheffield Wednesday's manager Stuart Gray. Picture: Andrew Roe
Sheffield Wednesday's manager Stuart Gray. Picture: Andrew Roe

Head coach Stuart Gray is unfazed over the delay in Azerbaijani businessman Hafiz Mammadov’s takeover of Sheffield Wednesday.

Nearly seven weeks have passed since the Owls revealed Mammadov, who also owns FC Baku and French outfit RC Lens, will be taking over the Championship outfit. But, in a statement released on their website late Saturday night, Wednesday confirmed the buyout has been held up because Mammadov has been dealing with his other business interests in his homeland.

But Gray, who has scotched reports linking Owls with Welsh international defender Danny Gabbidon, told The Star: “I’ve not had a chance to speak to the chairman. I saw the statement.

“All I can do is concentrate on getting the side ready and keeping them upbeat for the Newcastle game on Wednesday. The chairman and Mr Mammadov will sort the takeover out and I will sort the team.”

Mammadov, the founder of the Baghlan Group, which specialises in oil, gas, transportation and construction, met with Mandaric in London last Friday and the Owls hope to update fans again prior to their first match of the season at Brighton and Hove Albion on August 9.

Wednesday’s statement read: “Unfortunately the planned completion date has been delayed slightly due to some important matters relating to the other business interest of Mr Mammadov which have required his full attention in Azerbaijan.

“This has delayed him from travelling to the UK as he had originally planned and hindered his ability to conclude the takeover.

“Mr Mammadov’s advisors have been in constant dialogue with the directors of the club and an excellent working relationship has been built between both sides.

“The due diligence process has been completed and the club will hopefully soon be in a position to complete the regulatory requirements set by the Football League.

“We are pleased to confirm that Mr Milan Mandaric and Mr Mammadov met in London on Friday evening to discuss the takeover process and both parties confirmed their commitment to complete the sale as soon as practical.”

Mandaric, who will stay on as chairman, remains optimistic the deal will be completed.

“I fully appreciate the frustration of our supporters, we all want to see a quick completion so we are in the best shape possible for the start of the new season,” he said.

“Despite the delay, I am still committed to fully supporting (manager) Stuart (Gray) in his preparations and this has been demonstrated by the permanent signings of Keiren Westwood and Sam Hutchinson along with the contract extensions agreed with Chris Kirkland, Glenn Loovens and Jose Semedo.

“I have been kept fully informed by Mr Mammadov’s advisors during the process and Friday’s meeting was very constructive. I continue to believe that he will be a wonderful custodian for this great club and I am very excited at his plans for the future.”

As soon as the takeover has been finalised, Gray hopes to sign “three or four” quality players to bolster his threadbare squad. He is set to make a final decision today on trialist Dejan Kelhar, who started for the second successive match in yesterday’s pre-season friendly at Doncaster Rovers. It finished two apiece after second-half goals by Marc De Val and Kyle Bennett cancelled out Atdhe Nuhiu and Michail Antonio’s strikes either side of half-time.

Gray said: “I thought we became a bit sloppy after we went two nil up and overcomplicated things. We gave away far too many free kicks in and around our 18 yard box and we got punished for the equaliser. We conceded two goals in a game where we dominated possession and should have seen the game out.”

Caolan Lavery will be assessed today after suffering a knee injury while Jose Semedo was left out because of a muscle problem. Like Semedo, Keiren Westwood (knee) did not feature and is a major doubt ahead of their warm-up match with Newcastle on Wednesday while Kieran Lee (groin) will be monitored by Wednesday’s medical team over the next 48 hours.