Wednesday takeover still on, insists Sheard
By Stu Owl
June 3 2008
LANCASHIRE-based businessman Geoff Sheard last night insisted that he was still committed to a takeover deal at Sheffield Wednesday. Sheard, who represents Swiss and German investors, is trying to acquire the 30 per cent stake in the club owned by former chairman Dave Allen, director Geoff Hulley and former director Keith Addy
Manager Brian Laws, however, is working on the basis that unless there is a takeover – money is going to remain tight at Hillsborough this summer.
After spending nearly four months locked in negotiations, Sheard's deal appeared to have hit the rocks last month when the club instructed financial advisers Deloitte and Touche to widen the search for fresh investment.
However, last night, Sheard re-emerged to pour cold water on suggestions that his move was nothing more than a publicity stunt.
"We are still 100 per cent committed to getting this deal done as soon as possible," he told the Yorkshire Post. "We have also appointed (accountants) Grant Thornton to complete due diligence and the purchase of the shares."
Although Sheard is not allowed to go into further detail due to takeover rules and regulations, it is understood that his lawyers are trying to remove one final stumbling block. If that can be successfully overcome, a deal may even be resolved in the next two weeks.
After completing the purchase of the 30 per cent stake, Sheard's backers would hope to finalise separate deals with the supporters group, Wednesdayite, who own a 10 per cent stake, and the Shareholders' Association, whose members control a 12 per cent stake. Both groups held 'positive' discussions with Sheard before the end of last season.
The Owls, who are hampered by debts of £26m, narrowly avoided relegation to League One last season and relied heavily on loan signings to stay up.
Manager Laws is again scouring the markets for loan deals and has not ruled out returns to Hillsborough for West Bromwich Albion striker Bartosz Slusarski or QPR midfielder Adam Bolder.
"I have to work on the principle that we are not awash with money but, importantly, I have not been told that we have to sell anyone," stressed Laws last night. "I am turning over as many stones as I can in my search for new players and will be looking at players who are out of contract or available on long-term loans.
"If there are players in the squad who I think will not figure next season, they would be allowed to move on," he added. "It's all about making the right decisions for the club."
Laws said he was 'optimistic' about securing the services of midfielder James O'Connor who is available on a free transfer from Burnley.
He also insisted that there had been no enquiries for teenage defender Mark Beevers whose performances last season led to a new four-year deal.
Taken From Yorkshire post.pqs: qs: