Sheffield Wednesday: Milan: I got carried away

Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric
Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric

Milan Mandaric has conceded his judgement may have been clouded by the excitement over the proposed takeover of the Owls, which collapsed yesterday.

The Wednesday chairman issued a statement yesterday saying he could not allow the buyout by Hafiz Mammadov to continue after the Azerbaijani businessman failed to meet prearranged obligations.

These obligations include both Mammadov’s share purchase and payment for the ‘Azerbaijan: Land of Fire’ sponsorship deal.

Mandaric sought to end speculation over the deal and any potential distraction of on-field matters with yesterday’s move and has instructed his lawyers to consider legal action against Mammadov.

And he admits a desire to please supporters meant he possibly kept patience with Mammadov for longer than he might otherwise have.

He said: “Our supporters were extremely excited when the takeover was announced.

“Like me, they believed that Mr Mammadov offered a great opportunity for the club.

“In hindsight my desire to please our supporters probably clouded my decision to grant further time for him to complete the process.”

An agreement between Mandaric and Mammadov over the sale of the club was first announced in early June.

Following the announcement, there was little apparent progress on the deal, other than the ‘Land of Fire’ brand operated by Mammadov being unveiled as the Owls’ primary sponsor in mid-July.

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Unconfirmed reports of Mammadov suffering financial difficulties in his native Azerbaijan have consistently hung over the deal.

With the 49-year-old failing to produce the funds to both complete the share purchase and cover the ‘significant six-figure’ sponsorship deal in the past three months, Mandaric has moved to pull the plug.

He said: “Mr Mammadov’s vision for Sheffield Wednesday was very exciting and the main reason why I agreed a deal to hand over ownership of our club.

“The legacy I leave behind is vitally important to me and I believed Mr Mammadov offered a wonderful future for the supporters of Sheffield Wednesday Football Club.

“Unfortunately, despite working hard with both Mr Mammadov and his representatives since the agreement was signed, he has not been able to meet the obligations set out in the contract for either the purchase of the shares or the sponsorship arrangements.

“As supporters will have seen, we have fully committed to the sponsorship agreement.

“We are proudly wearing our new shirts with the ‘Azerbaijan Land of Fire’ logo and this alongside the other advertising inventory will give worldwide coverage to the country.

“Whilst I hope that Mr Mammadov will very quickly overcome his difficulties in Azerbaijan, I cannot allow this continued speculation to continue and have asked my legal advisors to take such legal action as they consider necessary.

“The team has started the new season extremely well and I am determined not to allow any off the field issues to distract us from giving Stuart and the squad the best possible chance to continue the good form we have shown so far.”

Mandaric has confirmed he will continue to fund the ‘ongoing financial requirements’ of the Owls.

And he is confident the club will continue to be an attractive prospect for potential investors.

He said: “The club as always will attract people who are interested in acquiring a top English football club.

“Accordingly, I will explore every serious possibility and if I believe that there is someone who can accelerate our plans to return this club to the Premier League, then I will do all in my power to welcome them to Sheffield.”