Sheffield Wednesday: Former potential Owls owner denies fleeing Azerbaijan

Hafiz Mammadov with Milan Mandaric
Hafiz Mammadov with Milan Mandaric
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Former prospective Wednesday owner Hafiz Mammadov has denied fleeing his native Azerbaijan due to an arrest warrant being issued over alleged embezzlement.

Mammadov agreed to buy the Owls from Milan Mandaric a year ago for around £40m with his ‘Azerbaijan Land of Fire’ branding appearing as the main shirt sponsor throughout the season.

But Mandaric pulled the plug on the deal in September after Mammadov failed to provide the necessary funds.

Reports emerged in Azerbaijan over the weekend that an arrest warrant had been issued for Mammadov over failed repayment of a loan –the latest incident which suggests the Owls dodged a bullet with his failed takeover.

It is alleged Mammadov borrowed around £60m from the International Bank of Azerbaijan that was never repaid.

Website AzPolitika claims the 50-year-old was warned about the arrest warrant two days before it was issued, allowing him to leave the country.

Mammadov is currently in London, but has flatly denied fleeing the country.

He said: “The information about my flight from the country is an absolute lie.

“Currently I’m in London for treatment. I have problems with my leg.

“In the coming days, I will be back in Baku.”

Mammadov still owns majority stakes in two football clubs but both are suffering from off-field problems.

FC Baku has had its license revoked by the Azerbaijan Football Federation due to severe financial difficulties and the lack of guarantees for the coming season and will be relegated to the second division.

French club RC Lens were automatically relegated to Ligue 2, regardless of their final finishing position this season, due to Mammadov failing to provide funds he had previously guaranteed.

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