Sheffield Wednesday legend Chris Waddle reckons he knows who is to blame for the troubles his old club are experiencing.
Wednesday, one of the oldest clubs in English football and founding members of the Premier League, will be playing in the third tier next season.
The 2020-21 campaign was a disaster for the Owls with a six-point deduction handed down to them after a breach of spending rules.
On the pitch, it wasn’t much better with four different men in the Hillsborough hotseat at various points in the season whilst player wages went unpaid or partially paid more than once during a torrid campaign.
It ended with a 3-3 draw at Derby – a result that sent Wednesday down to League One for the third time in 18 years.
Waddle spent four years in South Yorkshire in the 1990s, helping the team to two domestic cup finals and finishing seventh in the top flight.
Nowadays though, he can only watch on and bemoan his old side’s demise. And he believes that owner Dejphon Chansiri is the man who should carry the can for the club’s struggles.
“It’s just been a terrible few years for Sheffield Wednesday,” said the 60-year-old, who now works as a pundit for BBC Radio 5Live.
“I still live in the area, and my lad is a massive Wednesday fan. He was born here, and we’re both thinking the same as probably every supporter at the moment; what’s gone wrong with this football club?
“When I was there we were reaching cup finals, challenging at the top end of the table, we had some terrific players. There was always a great atmosphere in the changing rooms as we all got on very well. And then you look at the club now and you just think ‘what’s happened to this club?’
“A club like Wednesday, with those supporters, should never be out of the Premier League.
“Dejphon Chansiri took over and had a two-year plan to get us out of the Championship and into the Premier League. It didn’t work, and he didn’t have a proper plan in place after those two years.
“The money’s ran dry, I don’t know where he’s getting money from.
“To me, if he had anything about him, he’d say ‘look, I can’t take us to the Premier League’, and he should put the club back on the market.
“But this is where the problems are going to start, because he owns the ground as well. Unless he gets a ridiculous offer, I’m sure he’s going to drag things out.
“The one thing you don’t want to happen to Sheffield Wednesday is that they become a Bolton Wanderers – a big team that’s sliding down the leagues.”
Ironically Bolton, who suffered four relegations in nine seasons, bounced back last term and will share a division with Wednesday in 2021-22.
Even after so much upheaval, Wednesday somehow are second favourites with the bookies to get promoted.
Right now, that looks a tough task for boss Darren Moore, who has been left with a skeleton squad following a swathe of players whose contracts were not renewed.
Waddle though remains optimistic that Moore is the right man.
“Darren’s doing a good job but his hands are tied,” Waddle added.
“He’s signed a lot of young players, but he’s managed to keep Barry Bannan. I think he’ll have to really look at that loan market; it’s going to be key to Wednesday’s chances of success next season.
“Bannan was very good in the Championship last year, so he should be able to cruise League One.
“I’ve got everything crossed for the club; I’d hate to see them down in the bottom half of the table after 10/15 games this season.
“That would be tough to take.”
Chris Waddle was speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes at the launch of their European Championships 5-a-side Bet. Click here to find out more.
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