Embattled Thai owner ‘won’t sell’ English football club

Embattled Thai owner ‘won’t sell’ English football club

Dejphon Chansiri has rocky relationship with Sheffield Wednesday fans but he’s still paying the bills

Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri attends a Capital One Cup match against Arsenal in 2015. (Reuters File Photo)
Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri attends a Capital One Cup match against Arsenal in 2015. (Reuters File Photo)

The Thai owner of Sheffield Wednesday is not considering selling the English football club, even as his relationship with the team and its supporters deteriorates, according to UK media reports.

Dejphon Chansiri continues to make top-level appointments in an attempt to turn the club’s fortunes around. Alan Nixon, the football columnist of The Sun, said Mr Dejphon has “no plans” to sell the club even if they are relegated.

The report comes at a time when the “loveless marriage”, as The Independent described the relationship between the club’s owner and its fans, has hit a new low.

The Owls, who spent eight seasons in the Premier League in the 1990s, are currently at the bottom of the Championship table with just six points from 15 matches so far this season.

The club won promotion to the second tier from League One in a playoff in May, but relegation now appears highly possible again.

Fans have been relentless in their criticism of the owner, saying he has not done enough to make the club competitive. Mr Dejphon hit back on Sept 29 with an extraordinary open letter on the Sheffield Wednesday website, saying he was tired of all the “insults” directed at him and his family and would not put any more money into the club.

At the time he said he was open to selling the club if an offer that made good business sense came along.

Mr Dejphon said he had been contributing at least £2 million of his own funds into keeping the club afloat each month. But in October he said he was having cash-flow problems of his own. The club was facing an overdue tax bill and the very real possibility that it would not meet its payroll. Failure to pay the tax bill would mean a ban on recruiting new players.

He told local media that one possible solution was for 20,000 fans to contribute £100 each to cover the emergency. “If you don’t want to save your club, then don’t call yourselves the owners and me the custodian,” he told the Sheffield Star.

No one was sure if he was serious, but the outrage reached a new level.

On Oct 31 Mr Dejphon declared that his cash-flow situation had improved, the taxes were paid, and so were the players and staff.

Mr Dejphon, whose family controls Thai Union Plc, the world’s largest tuna processor, led a consortium that acquired Sheffield Wednesday for £37.5 million in 2015. Since then, he has poured an estimated £150 million into the club.

The year after he took over, Sheffield Wednesday reached the Championship playoff final, where a win would have lifted them back into the big-money promised land of the Premier League. But it was not to be, and a return to glory now seems farther away than ever.

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