Dom Howson column: Milan will not be led down garden path with latest talks

Milan Mandaric
Milan Mandaric

It’s good to talk - and Sheffield Wednesday have done plenty of that with several groups over the last year or so regarding a takeover.

But there is a difference between expressing an interest and putting your money where your mouth is. That’s where Hafiz Mammadov was found wanting.

Mammadov exchanged contracts with Owls chief Milan Mandaric on a £40m buyout last June. Everything had been agreed but the Azerbaijani businessman failed to deliver. As Mandaric later conceded: “My desire to please our supporters probably clouded my decision to grant further time for him to complete the process.”

It ended up dragging on for far too long and Wednesday and, more specifically Mandaric, are still counting the cost of Mammadov’s takeover falling through. The Azerbaijan Land of Fire logo will remain on the Owls’ shirts and advertising hoardings at Hillsborough until Mammadov fulfills the terms of their sponsorship agreement, a deal understood to be worth a six figure sum.

The club thought Mammadov was the real deal and gave him as long as possible to stump up the cash. Ultimately, he proved to be another “tyre-kicker”.

The Mammadov affair hurt Mandaric’s pride and reputation. If the Thai’s who are currently in talks with the club over a possible £30m buyout are a serious bidder - and I have heard nothing to suggest they are not - they will have to prove to Mandaric they have the financial clout to take the club to the next level.

Leaving Wednesday in safe hands is important to Mandaric. Two months ago, he told me: “I want a special owner. I don’t want my hard work and a lot of money to be in vain. I want somebody who can build on that.” The last thing Mandaric wants is for all his hard work and money to go waste. Certainly on the field, the team has progressed each and every year of his premiership.

People should not forget one of the main reasons why there is takeover interest in the club in the first place. It is down to the team’s results. The side are on the up and have got an outside chance of gatecrashing the play-off positions, although they could do with picking up a healthy points haul from January.

The talking will briefly stop at Nottingham Forest tomorrow but, one way or another, the latest round of takeover talks needs to be resolved quickly.