It’s been a while, but I’m going to be writing more regularly again this year. I struggle to stick to things, so I’m determined to prove that I can set a long term goal and reach it. A lot is going on at Sheffield Wednesday right now, and plenty of talking points, and with a new advisor on the scene, I feel it’s the perfect place for me to start.
As revealed in The Athletic by Nancy Frostick, the chairman is taking advice from Erik Alonso of WBD Sports. I have had a conversation with Erik, something I may talk about further down the line, but how he spoke made me feel like his involvement began a while ago. A suspicion confirmed in the chairman’s latest media call. I thought this because some of the details mentioned related to events from months ago.
What I’d like to discuss today isn’t Erik Alonso or his involvement, again, a topic for a later date. Instead, what could happen in terms of the chairman now having two advisers, that we know of, around him. The chairman has told me previously that Amadeu Paixao is his advisor, and therefore, on his payroll. Their relationship began through Doyen Sports Investments, continuing through Principal Sports Management and now Foremost Sports Consultants. I think Erik Alonso may be potentially onboard through No Limits Sports, a company he is a director of alongside Tajinder Sumal.
So, what does all this mean? Well, let’s start with the chairman. Whatever anyone thinks of him, he remains a determined and passionate man. He’s a guy with flaws where football is concerned, and football business, but I have seen how much everything weighs heavy on his shoulders. He’s told me himself, and I believe him. I’m not attempting to neglect how the fans feel, of course, but I think that having the wrong people around him has been a significant factor in where we are now. Is it the only reason? No. And does the chairman have to shoulder most of the blame? I’d say so.
The chairman is the money man. He is the owner. And while Sheffield Wednesday have and continue to have problems in financing, he’s the guy with the most financial muscle in the hierarchy at present. What this presents, in my opinion, is opportunity. While the chairman has been in football a while, I’m not convinced about his knowledge. I know Amadeu has connections, and Erik suggests he has, too. If the chairman doesn’t have the reach, desire or ability to initiate or complete tasks as the main man, he’s putting his trust in advisers, who are football agents.
It will be standard practice for club owners to turn to those around them when hunting for a new manager. However, at Wednesday, the chairman suggests his advisers, again, football agents, are the people putting together a list. I heard on the grapevine that Amadeu had a list featuring managers who had previously worked in the Bundesliga 2, as well as a couple of others from elsewhere. I understand the Portuguese football agent has a connection in Germany, as I’ve mentioned before. So it makes sense that we brought Jos Luhukay as manager and players such as David Bates.
But, while Amadeu devising a list of potential candidates is likely, what about Erik Alonso? Will there be collaboration? Will he have his own ideas on who he feels should be the next manager of the club? I think you could suggest it’s a good thing to have more than one voice, but it depends on whether they have anything to gain personally from putting specific names forward. The same applies when it comes to transfers. Having agents heavily involved and close to the action allows them to potentially align with friends in the industry to bring players and so on.
Amadeu has undoubtedly been the chairman’s right-hand man for years, but with Erik on the scene, his position is under threat. The chairman suggests that the adviser doing the best work will be the one he listens to the most, or words to that effect. So, it creates the potential for the pair to jockey for position, which will cloud judgement, at a time when the chairman needs clarity and the right advice.
I always go back to something that Gary Megson said on his time as manager at the club. Meggy said, “There were people at Sheffield Wednesday who were working against Sheffield Wednesday.” I think there is the potential for this to be the case still, with football agents undoubtedly going to do what makes sense for them, rather than take the correct steps to protect the chairman’s and club’s interests.
My suggestion is for the chairman to employ staff inside Sheffield Wednesday, paid by the club, to work in his and the club’s best interests. We already have good guys in David Downes and Dean Hughes in the building. It would make more sense to build a recruitment department around them where and when possible. I’d consider someone to lead the charge on the football side, too.
Proper people, with the right intentions, who will guide the chairman and protect his and the club’s interests at all times is what is needed. It’s now or never. From what we have been witness to in the last few years, it’s clear any advice given by the people around the chairman isn’t the right advice. Why not try something new? The chairman has nothing to lose, after all. I think it could work better than having football agents, who both have links to Gino Pozzo of Watford, vying to be his right-hand man, telling him what he wants to hear, and leading him down the wrong path.