Some Leadership Please!
Reflecting on a difficult week for the club, an open letter to Mr Chansiri

Dear Mr Chansiri,

At the end of a difficult week for SWFC I thought I should write to you with a few thoughts.

I don’t know about you but I think our beloved club is in a bit of a pickle at the moment. You have bought into our club and put a great deal of your own money into it, but the strategy of simply throwing money at achieving promotion has failed; the trust you placed in Amedeu Paixao (who appears to be our effective Director of Football) and Carlos Carvalhal has not borne fruit. The financial position of the club viz a viz FFP is not looking good and as a result we will need to find a different model that may be a bit more hard slog and steady progression than being a shooting star. I accept that as long as you are prepared to underwrite losses through ‘soft’ loans to the club there is no imminent threat to our financial stability, but continuing to lose £20m a year is not sustainable in the long term.

At the moment the club feels to be lacking in direction and strategy, and most importantly leadership. For me an effective leader is a person who is rooted in the reality of their organisation, who creates an inspiring vision of the future, who motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision, and who is able to harness the practical efforts of everyone in the organisation(and it’s followers) behind that vision. I humbly suggest to you that you are not achieving that right now. I believe you need to take some decisive action to re-energise the club and your leadership of it. My suggested actions to you are the following:

1. By reference to the leadership definition above reflect upon whether you believe you are being an effective leader of our club right now and also reflect upon what you might need to do differently to be a more effective leader.

2. Stop looking at everything through the lens of getting in to the Premier League as quickly as possible.

3. Explain to us what is to be the football strategy/operating model and financial strategy of our club in the new context of being up against the limits of what is allowed under FFP. In this context please answer the following questions:

  • What legitimate expenditures does our club believe can be excluded from the FFP assessment in March 2018?
  • What assessment of anticipated losses for 17/18 has the club provided to the FL?
  • In your view is the club FFP compliant and why?
  • Can any FL FFP sanction be applied on the basis of assessed potential losses for the third year in the period, or must application of the sanction be deferred until the actual financial accounts are published? I believe a transfer embargo would take effect on 1st January 2019, is this correct?
  • How much of your financial input (sponsorship etc) will be accepted by the FL as being ‘fair market value’ and therefore be an allowable cash injection?
  • What increases in income or reductions in expenditure are needed for 18/19 to ensure FFP compliance over the next 3 year FFP period?

4. Confirm to us that Amadeu Paixao and any other hangers-on or advisers such as Doyen Sports or the like are no longer involved with our club.

5. Up the whole game of the club regarding engagement and communication with fans – we are not just another source of funds, we are the lifeblood of the club. The current silence is deafening.

6. Take a new approach to engaging with local businesses, have a conversation with them about how the club can help them and how they can help the club; like fans they are not just a cash cow.

7. Re-position the club to be at the heart of the local community in the northern half of Sheffield – reach out to the community and make the club an active community resource.

8. Extend the season ticket renewal deadline to a point at which fans will be able to make a judgement about what they are buying into re future strategy of the club, and when it is clear what league we will be playing in next season.

The club is currently in a weak position. Our league position is not good and we face the potential of a relegation dogfight up until May 2018. We have just had a terrible week during which we have lost all 3 games, conceded 10 goals, and published financial results that demonstrate that the gamble on reaching promotion since May 2016 with older, costly and injury prone players has failed. At the time that Mr Carvalhal negotiated his departure from the club many fans thought that we needed a manager with experience of the championship, instead you appointed Jos who has been thrown in the deep end of the most difficult league in the world in the midst of an injury, form and confidence crisis in the squad. Such a situation would challenge most managers. Some improvements were made but there has now been a step back – he desperately has to produce some positive results urgently for us to avoid a very difficult end to the season.

 Sheffield Wednesday fans need to know that the custodian of our club has a strategy, a plan and a firm hold on the tiller. If you have, please tell us about it and try to build some confidence in our future.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Walmsley

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