Sheffield Wednesday: Investors face Mandaric test

Sam Hutchinson could be recalled to face Middlesbrough
Sam Hutchinson could be recalled to face Middlesbrough
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Anyone wanting to invest in Wednesday will have to pass a test set by Milan Mandaric, the chairman reveals in the annual accounts.

The chairman says in his report that he will never gamble with the club’s long-term future:

Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric

Owls Chairman Milan Mandaric

“I will contine to explore any avenue of investment,” he says. “I will always welcome the advances of someone who has the finances to potentially accelerate the long-term plans I have to restore this club back among the elite of English football.

“I will not, however, gamble with the long-term future of Sheffield Wednesday. This club has flirted with financial oblivion far too closely in recent seasons and anyone wishing to join me or replace me will need to pass my ‘fit and proper persons test’, which I believe will be at a far higher standard than some other club owners have applied in the past.”

Mandaric will only sanction a takeover if the newcomers are suitable and it is right for the club.

The accounts show that the club’s operating loss in the year ending May 31, 2013, was £3.9m - down by £1m on 2012, and the reduction in the year before that was £1.9m.

Turnover in the first year back in the Championship was up by £4m to £14.9m. “This emphasises the importance of the club retaining Championship staus and building for a brighter future,” says the report.

Wages and salaries rose from £7.29m to £10.41m.

Mandaric says he is committed to the club and has brought stability and strong governance, so the future is brighter and the club can look forward with cautious optimism.

The team return to the business of making sure they stay up when they face Middlesbrough at Hillsborough tomorrow - under orders from Stuart Gray to be dictators.

The head coach - who is praised by Mandaric in the report - believes that a principal failing of the Charlton game was players’ inability to impose themselves.

“We allowed Charlton to set the tempo,” he said. “If you set the tempo, you control the game. We didn’t get going until the second half. Now we’ve got another game and we’ve got to get Monday night out of our system.”

Gray could go back to 4-2-3-1 to match Boro up, and there is likely to be a midfield recall for Sam Hutchinson, who played very well at Huddersfield but felt the strain because of his lack of match fitness, and had to be rested for the Cup-tie.

Michail Antonio will be out for weeks with torn ankle ligaments, and Kieran Lee faces a similar absence because of his hamstring problem.

Lewis Buxton was on the bench on Monday but after playing for the Under 21s on Tuesday was back in the treatment room. Said Gray: “It will just be general stiffness and soreness but I think the physios want to send him for another scan.”

Giles Coke broke his hand in the Cup-tie but is due to have a cast fitted today that would allow him to carry on playing.

The Owls boss, like Mandaric, regrets that Leeds’ signing of Connor Wickham on loan for the rest of the season ends hopes of him coming back to Hillsborough.

Gray said: “We tried to contact Sunderland. But the deal had already been done, with Leeds, the agent and the player.

“We thank Connor for what he did for us. But he’s Sunderland’s player.”

Tomorrow’s opponents have not scored in six games but Gray knows that they have many experienced players.

“We’ll be ready,” he said. “They have some senior professionals who know the Championship. But I’m looking for a reaction from my players.

“Sometimes you get satisfaction out of the performance; I’d rather play ugly on Saturday if it means we win.”