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Terry Pierce - Milan Mandaric: Hero or villain?

Published: 30 Nov 2010 - 10:03:17

The Croatian-born businessman has managed to achieve the almost impossible and make money from football, but is he a saviour for the clubs he owns or is he only looking after number one?

Mandaric yesterday walked away from Leicester City ahead of his imminent take-over at another so-called sleeping giant, Sheffield Wednesday.The deal will secure the future of the grand Yorkshire club and for that reason alone it can only be good news for Owls’ fans, who this time a fortnight ago were unsure whether their beloved Wednesday would survive.

Mandaric has been linked with a take-over at Hillsborough on a number of occasions but talks reportedly broke down three weeks ago. However, with administration looming, Mandaric returned to the table and will buy the club for a nominal fee while agreeing a deal to clear all current debt.

There is no doubt Mandaric has got himself a bargain, and he has yet again done what he does best. He has bought a fantastic club at a knock-down price.

Wednesday were more than £30 million in debt but negotiations have seen a payment of approximately a quarter of that wipe the slate completely clean.And now the focus for Mandaric will be to increase the club’s value by winning promotion, filling Hillsborough and maximising commercial opportunities before selling the club on for a tidy return.

Success on the pitch can only be a good thing for fans and, despite sometimes coveting controversy for demanding instant success and his shoot-from-the-hip style, he really does want the best for his club because he wants the biggest increase in value.

A quick look through his previous dealings should brighten the mood of any Wednesday fan. Both Portsmouth and Leicester were in far better shape at the end of his tenure than the beginning, on the pitch at least.Of course, his choice of who to sell to subsequently led to Pompey’s financial ruin, and they have become involved in a situation Mandaric usually saves his new clubs from.

But the near-death of Pompey does not appear to be Mandaric’s fault, and you’d struggle to find a Leicester fan with a bad word to say against him.Like Wednesday, the Foxes were facing a more-than-uncertain financial future in the winter of 2007. Mandaric bought the club for a reported £25 million but despite saving them off the pitch, he and his succession of managers couldn’t prevent City from slipping into the third tier for the first time.

Fast forward three-and-a-half years and Mandaric has sold up again, this time to a Thai consortium for a reported £40 million. A sizeable profit for him but, more importantly, the club is in far better shape, with a seemingly secure future, a top-class manager and a set of playing staff more than capable of competing for promotion back to the top flight.

Yes he does hire and fire managers far too often. He’s had brushes with the law and he’s made an apparent fortune from buying clubs on their knees for a knock-down price before rebuilding them and selling them on.

But despite the controversy, he is a shrewd businessman who understands that on-field success is the only way to make money from ownership, and that can only be good news for Wednesday fans as they strive to get back to where they apparently belong.

FOLLOW TERRY ON TWITTER @telpierceDSG


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FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:terry pierce
Terry was born and bred in Wiltshire, and is a massive Swindon fan - travelling the length of the country most weekends to watch the 'mighty' Reds. He also manages a successful(ish) Sunday league side, and his life pretty much revolves around football. Five-year-old Terry was in the crowd when Swindon won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 with a 4-3 play-off win against Leicester. He cried after every goal. Read Terry's thoughts every week on life outside the Premier League. Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce.

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