Sheffield Wednesday: Takeover - The battles for Hillsborough control

Milan Mandaric
Milan Mandaric
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The news of Azerbaijani businessman Hafiz Mammadov buying out Milan Mandaric brings to an end the latest Sheffield Wednesday takeover talk, and there has been plenty.

Here, Danny Hall goes through previous attempts at taking a place at Hillsborough’s top table:

Prince Naseem Hamed

Prince Naseem Hamed

October 2000 - ‘Prince’ Naseem Hamed sparked almost 15 years of takeover trauma at the turn of the Millennium, when he expressed an interest in buying out Charterhouse as the club’s major stakeholder, to the tune of around £4.5million. “We know Prince is a Wednesday supporter and he has the money,” said Owls spokesman Steve Chu. “But it’s one thing buying out Charterhouse; we need someone who can invest money beyond that.” Boxer Naz turned out to not have the fight to buy his hometown club, and the interest cooled.

May 2004 - One of the earliest takeover sagas to engulf Hillsborough came when former Chelsea chief Ken Bates decided he wanted to invest in Wednesday. Bates offered to invest £10million, but an Owls statement said that “club’s board and bankers had found Bates’ proposals ‘unacceptable’ and that negotiations were ‘at an end’.” Bates hit back at then-Owls chairman Dave Allen, saying: “I’m not going away because I think the true depths of the problems at Wednesday haven’t been revealed yet - and maybe that’s why they won’t let me in to see the books. But I’ll be here until we’ve done the deal. Mr Allen, the chairman, is a pigeon-fancier, he’s not a football man.” Bates eventually did ‘go away’ - and bought Leeds United instead.

July 2007 - Paul Gregg was the name on Wednesday fans’ lips in 2007, with reports claiming that the former Everton director had scheduled a press conference to announce his takeover of the club. Apollo Leisure group millionaire Gregg sold his shares in Everton the year before after a high-profile fall-out with chairman Bill Kenwright. Wealthy Irishman Sean Quinn was also linked with the Owls, as was Carson Yeung - who invested in Birmingham City instead.

January 2008 - Perhaps the most bizarre Wednesday takeover attempt saw Geoff Sheard, an entrepreneur based in Lancashire, approach the club, claiming to represent investors who wanted to take over. Sheard produced a letter, supposedly from the Dominica-based Private Capital Bank, apparently proving that the group had funds of £100m. The letter was in the name of Richard Francis - who turned out to be Richard Downes, a convicted money launderer who served 33 months in prison after an FBI sting. Sheard, who tried to later buy Newcastle United, has since been declared bankrupt.

Carson Yeung

Carson Yeung

April 2008 - Ex-Darlington chief executive Jon Sotnik is named as the leader of a consortium to rival Sheard’s.

August 2010 - Lifelong Wednesdayite Dennis Hobson teamed up with American investment company Club 9 Sports to launch a takeover bid at Hillsborough, said at the time to be worth around £16m. The deal, which included six months of negotiations, guaranteed League One Wednesday £5m up front, £5m on promotion back to the Championship and a £6m write-down on the club’s £24m debt. Again, no deal was agreed and Club 9 later tried, without success, to invest in Rangers.

October 2010 - A consortium fronted by former Owls manager Chris Turner pledges a £2m advance to solve short-term cash problems. But major backer Kevin Mundle, a senior executive at Certified Oil Rentals, pulls out of a deal to invest in Wednesday, citing ‘personal reasons’. A consortium fronted by Rotherham’s Spencer Fearn and a group including former Wednesday director Mick Wright also competed to buy the club.

December 2010 - Milan Mandaric completes a deal to acquire Wednesday for £1, negotiating terms to wipe out the club’s crippling debts. The Serbian-born businessman resigned as chairman of Leicester City to take over at Wednesday, who had faced a winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs a month earlier over an unpaid £1.4m tax bill. Mandaric had faced competition from a consortium of fans, One Wednesday, for control of the club, after £120,000 had been raised in 24 hours.

Geoff Sheard

Geoff Sheard

July 2013 - Mandaric confirms that he is in talks with a Chinese consortium headed by Sammy Yu, the former Birmingham vice-chairman. Mandaric said at the time: “Sammy Yu is a good football man and a friend. He shows interest, of course. We are not anywhere near to any deal.” And no deal did materialise with Yu, a former player and coach of the Hong Kong football team with more than 40 years experience in the game.

June 2014 - Wednesday reveal that Mandaric has agreed to sell the club to Azerbaijani oil baron Hafiz Mammadov.

Dennis Hobson

Dennis Hobson

Chris Turner

Chris Turner