Some well-placed sources claim Sheffield Wednesday’s ownership intrigue could finally be coming to a head. The Owls and their fans are dutifully accustomed to being described as “in limbo.” But that doesn’t make it any less painful a state of affairs.
It is not a condition gladly tolerated by a hyperactive chairman either. That’s why I think the current perception of inertia, whether real or imagined, will not outlast the next fortnight or so.
My gut feeling is that, within that time, a takeover will either be pushed towards completion or fade from the agenda. In the latter event, expect Milan Mandaric – never less than hands on - to tighten his grip on the wheel and make whatever decisions he feels necessary to drive the team clear of danger.
The interest of Hong Kong businessman Sammy Yu, who leads a Chinese consortium, first emerged in July but started in May. In layman’s terms, the time to “put up or shut up” could be fast approaching.
In the end it’s about money on the table – and I’d guess we are talking a minimum of £20m-£30m here. I’d be surprised if Wednesday have not set some sort of timetable so that the club can accelerate a pretty pressing schedule if it is not met.
It’s hard to see that period extending beyond successive away games at Bolton and Barnsley as manager Dave Jones seeks an essential victory or two to invigorate an improving team and reinforce his own position.
From all I hear, the accusation from a minority that Mandaric has “lost interest” in the club could not be further from the truth. He is restless and impatient for progress on and off the field with other potential buyers, believed to include a Saudi group, circling.
Inevitably, there will be a sliding scale on the club’s value. Simply put, it will go up or – as currently – down according to league position. Mandaric knows it must be improved for all possible reasons.
Jailed Gary Madine is lodging an appeal and, from the noises I hear, I’d be surprised if he is sacked by Sheffield Wednesday as a £400,000 striker with 20 months left on contract.
I feel the Owls are likelier to take the middle course, effectively cancelling all or most of this season’s terms and retaining an option – for club and player – to resume his career at Hillsborough next season.
Moral issues can be argued either way but the reality is that Madine is expected to serve half, or less, of an 18 month term.
When his time is done, the Owls are likely to want to explore re-harnessing the player rather than giving him away.