I’m guessing Sheffield Wednesday would have taken close to £2m for Michail Antonio regardless of
any other factor, including the one that overshadows everything at Hillsborough in this precarious pre-season.
Yes, the timing is awful. We are 48 hours from a new season with Stuart Gray chasing any number of much-needed new players and unsure of backing from a protracted takeover that looks, at best, to be in the balance.
But Nottingham Forest’s money, two-and-a-half times what Wednesday paid for a talented, potentially explosive but somewhat injury-prone winger, would surely be good business at any time.
Its acceptance wasn’t necessarily an omen that the Hafiz Mammadov buy-out is about to abort. However, money is the key on both fronts.
Cash on the table, that is. Wednesday have seen it for a player but evidently not, it’s believed, for the club.
From my enquiries, the Football League ratification issue is something of a red herring. All the contracts can be signed on a deal, as they have been for some time on the takeover, but in the end it’s about the money that seals it.
In this case, some £40m.
No-one can categorically say it won’t arrive or that the deal won’t happen ahead of a promised imminent update from Milan Mandaric.
Hopefully it will proclaim something more encouraging than feared.
But that did not appear to be the agenda as I wrote this. The one thing I could say with certainty - as per my suggestion here last week - is that Mandaric won’t let the uncertainty linger on into the season, if at all.
I understand the chairman (and still owner) is acutely aware of the damage, the sapping of morale from staff and supporters. Frankly, it can’t go on and I’m expecting Mandaric to take the initiative one way or the other.Further, there are justified fears that even if the takeover was scrambled together, it would not be the glossy brochure that presented itself at the outset.
Mammadov’s apparent business difficulties in Azerbaijan and the limbo state of his French outfit, Lens, plus his involvement in other clubs, might well suggest Wednesday are sailing into dangerously uncharted waters.
There is the old saying of “better the devil you know.” Right now Mandaric is in markedly hands-on mode in trying to work the Antonio money to Wednesday’s advantage on several fronts, including the pursuit of St. Johnstone striker Stevie May.
Take another little bow, Gary Megson, by the way. Antonio, the player he loaned from Reading, became not only a promotion-clincher but ultimately a great investment at £750,000. Chris O’Grady was a good Megson signing too. Which brings us to Brighton on Saturday and the hope that the Owls can avoid a predictable headline involving their former striker!