Dejphon Chansiri dresses soberly and talks sensibly. There are no real shocks at his Hillsborough unveiling, nasty or otherwise; he says all the right things.
But don’t get the idea Sheffield Wednesday’s new owner and chairman can’t spring surprises. Or that he won’t.
Chansiri’s cousin tells me that this is one business deal that certainly surprised him! “Dejphon thinks out of the box,” he says. Some might say less a box and more a tin considering his family’s tuna empire. But there is nothing glib or cliched about the bespectacled man with the inscrutable face.
And another thing. He didn’t get to be rich enough to buy a football club (a solo purchase at £37.5m) by giving away his innermost thoughts.
While Chansiri does his poker-faced routine on Monday (through an interpreter even though I gather he has some grasp of English), this column fills in the some of the blanks with a man who has known the Thai tycoon all his life.
“I grew up with him,” says Sathien Amoinkasemwont, who works with Chansiri in a promotional role. “And everyone who knows him is surprised by this move.”
The man himself admits he had little interest in the beautiful game until Wednesday came up and his young football-loving son got him excited about it. He confirms that he will take plenty of advice with Paul Aldridge and Stuart Gray still very much in place and Milan Mandaric’s wisdom on tap.
But let’s not forget that Chansiri has an unpredictable side, notwithstanding the apparent Thai characteristic of being calm and understated, shunning the limelight for its own sake.
Sathien adds: “Dejphon is very down to earth. Thai people work hard and they always keep an open mind. And, yes, Dejphon does his thinking out of the box.”
Which doesn’t mean gimmicks or a rent-a-quote style judging from this week’s first impressions as he talked of safeguarding the club’s traditions and of supporting Gray in a careful recruitment strategy in which money “doesn’t guarantee success.” You see, all the right things. You sense he is already listening well.
So how is Chansiri to work for? “Loyal and protective,” says Sathien. “He might seem demanding but if you know him he has a good sense of humour.”
Already it seems Chansiri has become an Owl – in the nocturnal sense. “He’ll stay up overnight and lose sleep watching Wednesday games,” Sathien reveals. “If it’s an evening game in England it’ll start at 3am in Thailand. He’ll be watching. As he will when a 3pm kick off means 10pm in Thailand.”
Owls fans will like the sound of that. I also like Chansiri’s decorum and restraint. But this is football and sometimes you need a spark. The new chairman clearly won’t shy from providing it, saying: “As chairman, the final decision on everything will rest with me.”
And don’t be surprised if he does something that surprises you. Pleasantly, let’s hope, when it comes to the scale of future signings. . .