Sheffield Wednesday fans have not had the greatest of times in recent seasons given the side has had very indifferent league form and huge consistency issues, not least made worse by some incredibly illogical managerial changes, and the 2023/24 campaign could be the strangest yet, when speaking from the point of view of a total neutral.
Owner Dejphon Chasiri has long been a bit of a divisive character at the club, and that is in no way to condone some of the awful abuse that he has suffered, but it seems he has now fully reached the end of his tether, and whilst I am sure he is looking at a potential future takeover series of options, fans of the club will probably certainly be feeling that he is now digging in out of spite and in an effort to just directly infuriate them.
After plenty of coarse abuse sent his way slightly earlier in the season, Chansiri stated that he was now refusing to put any additional funding into the South Yorkshire club and after an incident where fans threw tennis balls onto the pitch as a nature of their protest, he stated “some fans need to have more respect for owners of clubs”.
The situation has not improved, as on Friday they were placed under a fresh transfer embargo by the English Football League for a breach of financial rules, and having stated that he was currently suffering a ‘cashflow’ problem, he called on fans directly to raise £2 million in funding to see them through the current predicament which includes an unpaid HM Revenue and Customs bill, along with payment of wages problems. Even for those fans willing to entertain his gambit here they might need to look at the list of emerging gambling platforms to achieve it, but it is arguable as to how currently has greater odds of success right now.
This has not gone down well, and local MP for Brightside and Hillsborough, Gill Furniss, was very quick to label the development as ‘very concerning’.
“It is the responsibility of the owners to fix this, not fans. I will be seeking an urgent meeting with the club to discuss this.”
Quite what the MP feels they will achieve in discussions with a private company, in effect, is beyond me but fans of the Owls will no doubt appreciate the extra headlines and focus her comments have shed on life at the club right now, and even more strangely still, given Chansiri’s ‘no additional funding’ standpoint, he also stated that if fans did step up at this moment in time, their contribution would be paid back ‘with interest’.
“If 20,000 people gave £100 then it’s £2m, and it’d be clear – so we can finish it. That would cover everything, HMRC and the wages. That would need to be done before 10 November if they don’t want to pass the 30 days, but that means that there can be no next time. It’d need to be before to make it safe – if it was on the fifth then there would be 10 days left… If we were to hit 30 days then we’ll get a ban for three windows.”
Even at the Championship level of football, fans already pay handsomely for the privilege of supporting the club they take into their hearts, and an owner asking for more – when they knew the risks and the responsibilities of taking on a role that if successful would bring them adulation that money could not buy – is trite in the extreme.
Not least should I mention the current cost of living crisis, with inflation falling, but still higher than most in this country have been used to over the last few years, and again, we are now in the month of November and inflated and profit driven energy prices are about to hit most of the country once again, in a way that will impact the vast majority of people and at minimum, leave them more short than they have been for the last few months as the sun shined and energy costs could be reduced.
For a man who willingly put himself into the position of funding a football club, in return for his own status and gravitas, to now suggest loyal fans should cough up £100 as if that sum of money is absolutely nothing to them given they already commit to a season ticket, or pay more with match day tickets and merchandise, and tacitly imply it could be hidden down the back of the sofa, is an insult of the highest order.
Forbes (2020) still tag him as being ultimately worth 575 million dollars, via his father who he will inherit from, and will no doubt be bolstered by his own private business dealings, but even neutral fans will here be seething at the sheer arrogance he seems to display – even if nobody can actually fault him for taking rightful offence at the abuse he has suffered.
Loyal fans will be pumping money into the club long after the current owner has left – it is an owners responsibility to reward the fans, not ask the fans for a further handout.
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