SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY: Fans make the difference for Milan Mandaric

An Evening With Milan: Milan Mandaric addresses guests
An Evening With Milan: Milan Mandaric addresses guests

MILAN Mandaric believes that fan power can aid the Owls in their decisive final two games.

The chairman describes the club and the supporters as one team.

“The fans are a powerful 12th man for us,” he told the Star.

“”They are the ones who will also make a lot of difference in the future and have made a lot of difference since I took over.

“We are all one team. We are all united and trust each other and are going in the right direction.”

Wednesday will have another sell-out following at Brentford tomorrow, and the final game, against Wycombe a week tomorrow, is heading towards a sell-out in home areas.

Mandaric’s confidence in the promotion challenge is tempered by the knowledge that United must drop points if Wednesday are to have any chance of overtaking them.

He said: “If we can win both games we can still make it.

“We dropped too many points too easily in the past. That’s still punishing us. But it is still possible. Our objective is to win both games then see what happens.

“If it has to be the play-offs we will be well prepared for them. We are full of confidence; we have a good team, a good manager and the fans are right behind us.”

Wednesday are also planning for the future by pressing ahead with the £7 million scheme for a sport and community centre on Penistone Road.

The project goes before the city council planning committee on May 8, it was revealed at the start of An Evening with Milan Mandaric - a dinner hosted by the chairman at Hillsborough’s Charlton Suite for 110 industrialists and businessmen and women.

The function was mainly an opportunity for the Owls chief to introduce himself to the business community.

He gave a rundown on his career in business and football, and took part in a question-and-answer session.

Earlier, a virtual tour of the community project was shown.

The centre will include indoor and outdoor synthetic pitches, a Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice shop, cafe, kids’ zone, classrooms and workshops, function room and bar, taxi call centre, a healthcare centre, gym, dance studio and boxing gym.

The cost will be met by external funding and investment from various sources, including the Premier League and the Football Foundation, said the Owls’ community programme development manager, Spencer Taylor.

Mandaric described it as “beautiful project”.

Outlining his career, the chairman admitted it had not all been plain sailing but said he came through with hard work and determination.

He began by taking over his father’s machine shop in the old Yugoslavia, and became hugely successful in computer components in America, where he still has investments.

His involvement with football in the USA brought a close friendship with George Best. In England, he turned around the fortunes of Portsmouth and Leicester.

“Now I am part of the special family of Sheffield Wednesday,” he said.

“You have to run it as a business. But this business touches people’s lives. I like things to be right.”

Mandaric said he understood it may still be early for fans to judge him as a chairman. If he was not doing a good job, nobody would have to tell him it was time to leave.

He also joked: “Whether you like me or not, it’s tough luck; you’re stuck with me for a while!”

The chairman told his audience: “It’s important for you to know who I am. I want you to know the club is in good hands.

“I know what I am doing. I am surrounding myself with very good, professional people.

“It’s going to happen, not just because of me. It’s going to happen because of our supoporters.

“They’re unbelievable. They give me a lot of energy.

“It’s up to us to reward them for their loyalty.

“They have stuck with the club in hard times,. We want to give them good times in the future.”