Owls shed £41m debt

Sad farewell: Manager Gary Megson wanted James O'Connor to stay with the Owls but the club offered the player no contract
Sad farewell: Manager Gary Megson wanted James O'Connor to stay with the Owls but the club offered the player no contract
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sheffield Wednesday removed more than £41 million of debt from the club following the takeover by Milan Mandaric last December.

The club released its annual report and accounts for 2011 yesterday, which takes in the period of May 31 2010 to May 31 2011.

During that time Wednesday felt the effects of relegation from the Championship and a full season in League One.

The figures reveal the amount of debt that the Owls were in until the change of ownership to UK Football Investments LLC, which also saw Mandaric take over as chairman.

Including interest, more than £25m was owed to the banks and more than £21m to Sheffield Wednesday Plc.

A statement from the club said: “The main highlight that we are pleased to report is the removal of over £41m of debt from the club. Last season, as part of the takeover strategy our operating losses were offset by the waiver of the intercompany debt (of £21.4m) and, although no money changed hands, the accounting treatment saw the eventual profit reach £15.8m.

“As well as a major overhaul of the business both on and off the field, we are also able to report the net assets of the business at the end of May 2011 were a healthy £11m compared to the net liabilities of £31m reported at the end of May 2010.

“The trading figures are generally disappointing, a mixture of relegation, supporter dissatisfaction and the general economic downturn saw falls in revenue across all areas of the business.”

Relegation from the Championship cost the club more than £4m in turnover, down from almost £14m in 2010 to £9.4m in 2011.

Meanwhile, midfielder James O’Connor is leaving the club on January 1 for the USA. His Hillsborough contract runs out at the end of this month so he is to make a fresh start at a US club who have yet to be disclosed. Owls manager Gary Megson is reluctant to lose a player who played in nine wins, two draws and only one defeat in his recent run in the side.

It was ended only by a deep gash in his leg suffered in training after last month’s home match against Leyton Orient. The 32-year-old is still on the mend so has played his last match for the club.

Megson explained: “I’m really disappointed with James’s decision. James only signed a six-month contract in the summer. I wanted him to stay on and sign for another six months to the end of the season and we’d take it from there.

“I spoke to Paul Aldridge [chief executive] and said I wanted him to firm up Danny Batth, Stephen Bywater and Ben Marshall, and firm up James to the end of the season then try to bring in another player on the right-hand side.”

O’Connor said: “The problem is that I haven’t been made an offer by the club. From my point of view there’s nothing here for me at Sheffield Wednesday so I’ve got to look elsewhere.

“I’m disappointed myself, but such is life. I wish them all the best. It’s a fantastic club; it’s been an absolute privilege to play for them.”