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Chansiri Interview - Part 3

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Sheffield Wednesday owner Dejphon Chansiri gives Yorkshire Live the inside track on his five years at the helm.

Dom Howson: How do you reflect on your five years at the club? Do you have any regrets?

 
Dejphon Chansiri: It is easy to look at any situation with hindsight so I prefer not to use the word regret. Of course, I would like some things to have worked out differently, such as the play-off final. But this is football, this is sport. There are no guarantees.

All I ask of anyone, and I include myself in that, is that you do your best and give your all. Anyone can use hindsight but at any time, there are big decisions to be made across the club and they are made with the best possible intention.

It is easy for anyone to make decisions or suggest I do things without responsibility, it is completely different with responsibility and that is the role I have as chairman and owner.

What lessons have you learned?

 
 

Football is like nothing else. I have learned many, many things about football, the good side and the bad side and I will continue to learn, every day, every year I am here.

Are you still happy at the club?

Five years is a long time in football, there have been happy times and other times not so happy.

I am not happy when we lose any game but every chairman in the country will be the same.

It is much better when everyone is together, which I felt more in my first season and then the second season to be honest with you. But this is football and of course, no one is going to be happy when expectations are high and we do not reach those expectations. It is in these times when you see different sides to some people.

I do not mind criticism, I accept if it is constructive and reasoned. But my people have shown me things that cross the line which I cannot accept.

Some have gone to my family as I have said before, with some people there is no respect at all. But thankfully these fans are very much in the minority, the big majority of our fans are very respectful and for this, I say thank you.

Have you ever thought about selling up?

Many people have wanted to buy the club and I have said no to substantial bids in the past. The future is the future, nobody knows what will happen in football. Right now I focus on today and my 100% desire is to lead Wednesday the best I possibly can towards the best place we can possibly be.

When I came to our club, I had to choose between normal business or have the ambition to push for success as it was difficult to do both. We were outside of the Premier League for 15 years, I wanted to fulfil the fans’ dreams and I knew if this did not succeed I would never get my money back. I still have that dream.

 

Even if we got to the Premier League, it would take a few years just to break even. I have always tried to do my best and I will continue to give my all every day, week and year that I am chairman and owner. Sheffield Wednesday is in my blood and Hillsborough is like my second home. I want there to be a strong foundation for when I hand over to my son.

 

 

Are you here for the long haul?

Today that is my intention. Everything in life can change very quickly, you only have to see what is happening around the world right now but today I am happy and I wish to pass our club to my son.

I said from the start that while I am here I will try my best to help Wednesday succeed and I am thinking the same today. There are no guarantees but now I am the owner and chairman and I will give 100% until the day arrives when that situation may change.

 

 

What is your plan in the short, medium and long term?

Football is a very unique business. Football operates and is budgeted for on a seasonal basis depending on which division your club is in. It is not the same as a normal business where you can plan ahead for five or 10 years, for example.

It is difficult to look too far forward in football. We did our best to push for the first two to three years but then we had to step back, change some players and rebuild, then bring younger players in for the future. Investment cannot guarantee anything in football but it does help give the best chance of staying up and then move towards going up. We have seen how some of the big clubs with a lot of money have been relegated so nothing is guaranteed but everyone has tried their best.

 

Of course, we all want the perfect blend of youth, height, pace, strength and experience but we do not live in the perfect world, everyone wants the same thing. We have always tried to recruit the best we can and some transfers work out well while others do not, this is the benefit of hindsight. Football is not like a normal business where you recruit who you think is the best option but let go if it does not work out. You cannot do that with players, contracts are in place so you do the best you can and the plan is to succeed. In year one and year two we came very close but did not succeed so we had to step back and build again.

 

The plan of every club in the Championship is to firstly at least stay in this division and secondly aim for the Premier League. Some clubs, particularly those with parachute payments, have a better chance than others. For the rest, they all have the same ambitions and try their best to achieve them. The football will always be on the front line and in the background, I will always try to improve the off-field operation in every way possible.

 

 

The club has not had a CEO since Katrien Meire left in February 2019. Why have you not brought a replacement in?

 

I have a very strong and experienced senior management team in place, so you could say I have a team of CEOs. My team have many years’ experience in football, they manage their own departments throughout the club on a day to day basis. Each department feeds into the other in the professional way a business should operate. We have vastly experienced heads of each department, we have people who have been working at Wednesday for many years who know our club inside out. They are valuable to me and valuable to Sheffield Wednesday.

 

My senior management team brings a lot to our club and I am there to support when necessary. My people tell me that it is still said that I have no football professionals around me. Do you really think I would own a football club for five years, especially a club the size of Wednesday, and have no experienced football people in my team?

 

So I would say It also depends on what your definition is of a CEO. I have had times with a CEO and without a CEO and on the overall balance, today I am comfortable with the current organisational structure. This situation may change as the football business is like any other that constantly evolves. I may bring someone in the future but if we do, it has to be the right person who can enhance the club, drive revenues and help the business side to build strong foundations.

 
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Chansiri says he is happy with his senior management team.

Would a director of football help the club?

I would like to ask anyone who has this question, what is the perception of a director of football or sporting director in your view? A lot say a director of football would plan and control the player recruitment but a lot say the manager should always have the final say, which is a direct contrast. The way we operate is that the manager has the final say on which players he wants and I believe this is the correct way. If a director of football insists on bringing in a player the manager does not want, that is sure to create a problem.

 

So I think this depends on policy. My policy is that I do not believe in a director of football position, I believe in the team. So we have a team that equals a director of football or sporting director. I have explained how the recruitment works at our club, it is a collective from our team and I make the final decision financially as chairman. To involve one director of football in that process above the manager is not my policy as I believe the manager should decide who he wants to recruit. The manager works with the players every day and picks the team every week, so I believe the responsibility is his. Most clubs do not have a director of football and today it is not a role I will pursue.

 

Do you have any plans for a new training ground?

In an ideal world, I believe we would have moved to a new training ground some years ago for a number of reasons that have all been discussed in the past. This remains an ongoing process.

Despite Sheffield being one of the biggest cities in the country, potential locations for a new training ground are limited. We continue to explore different options but in the meantime, we have invested a significant amount of money into Middlewood Road to improve the training ground as much as we can such as the modular buildings, the new dome, new gym and the improvement and investment in the pitches year on year.

 

Of course, there are also big cost implications regarding a new training ground. The situation there would be the same as the stadium – when we achieve promotion to the Premier League we can look to accelerate the many plans we have in place. We want any move to allow our training ground to be Category 1. This would be a huge project to serve our club for many years to come, with a cost of anything up to £20m as we would need at least 10 pitches and the first-class facilities required to reach Category 1 status.

 

 

Did you have any plans in place for pre-season before the coronavirus crisis? If so, where does it leave your plans moving forward?

 

Normally these plans are put into place quite early because many clubs decide their pre-season commitments a long time before the summer. That is the way football is now and there are many factors to consider so the sooner you begin to draft your plans the better.

 

Our original plans involved a longer training camp in Portugal and then we would return to play some friendly games before the start of the new season. We expected to play Leicester, Scunthorpe and Stocksbridge at the minimum.

 

But now, of course, all these plans do not mean a lot because no one knows when football will restart on any level. Like all clubs, we will have to wait until the situation develops to a point where we can focus on anything but the health and well-being of everyone in the country and around the world.

 

 

How concerned are you about falling attendances at Hillsborough?

It is normal for attendances to go down when the team is not doing so well, this is football. I completely understand if anyone does not wish to attend a game, whether that is cost, personal or family reasons, work reasons or they just do not want to come. I would never want to see any fan coming to Hillsborough if they could not afford to or did not want to.

 

I have explained the strategy of the pricing many times. I had to show ambition when I bought our club and it was important to strike the balance between pricing and the level of investment.

 

We almost achieved the dream twice but then we had to step back and assess. In that time and since then the Season Ticket base has increased by 40% which was the intention, I always said the best value by a long way will be in a Season Ticket, even though we lose money. We have a full range of Season Ticket packages offering a lot of flexibility, from one year all the way up to 10 years. Every option has big savings and many thousands of supporters have made big commitments, for which I always say thank you.

 

I know there is criticism of the matchday prices but we have tried different experiments following Steering Group meetings and talking to fans. If the prices were reduced and the revenue was the same then no question, we would do that, but if we reduce and draw less revenue as we have tried for some games, then that is not practical.

 

We have a number of match ticket categories available which allow us to be flexible and to also price on expected demand. Many people refer to Category A as our only prices when in fact this has been used only three times with an average attendance of over 30,000. We have had low prices for midweek games and Saturday games and there has been no major increase on the attendance, apart from a holiday fixture when the attendance is normally higher anyway.

 

Our average attendance this year was on course to be very similar to last year before the current suspension of the fixtures. We have introduced kids’ Season Tickets for £23 and revamped the Family Zone in the Grandstand completely. We are committed to improving the matchday experience across the whole stadium and will work side by side with our fans to that end moving forward.

Of course, the results on the pitch have a very big influence on everything at a football club, not least attendances. When we are doing well the attendances go up and when we are not they go down. When we have a bad time, that is when we need the fans even more, we need to be together. But I will repeat what I have said many times in the past – I would never ask one fan to buy a ticket they cannot afford or if they do not wish to come. I say thank you to all our fans who buy tickets.

Is it inevitable you will have to sell a player to balance the books?

If we sell one player or more than one player, it has to be the right deal for our club. I always try to do what is in the best interests of the club. It is my responsibility when things go well and my responsibility when we have a problem. As I told you, there has to be an official bid before any potential transfer and if and when we receive that we will consider everything and make the correct decision for Sheffield Wednesday. It is not just a simple case of buy or sell, it is easy to say but not so easy to do, every situation has to be realistic and as chairman, I have to look at the overall picture.

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Owls legend Chris Waddle.

Chris Waddle made some outspoken comments about the club recently. What is your response?

My answer to this if anyone has something to say, which is fine, then please be constructive and with respect.

Chris Waddle does not know how the inside of our club works, he knows very little about the Sheffield Wednesday of today other than our position in the table. Would he be saying the same thing if we were still in third place? What experience does he have of running a football club? I understand he is a legend of the fans but he should think more if he is trying to influence people. He should be more professional. Does he have the answers to his questions? It is too easy to just criticise. I don’t mind anyone having an opinion, but please have respect and the facts.

It is the same as social media. Some people focus on negatives but never ask to speak to me face to face, preferring instead to hide their real names. Some say they have written to me and have no reply when they have not and put this on social media, this is also not fair. There are a lot of people out there who think they are experts but do not know the truth. If anyone has an agenda or has already made up their mind without knowing the facts there is not a lot I can do.

 

It does not matter if you are a big name or not. If our fans or former players wish to speak to me or about me with respect, no problem. I will always say come and talk to me in person, do not just criticise. Some fans hide behind a pretend name or face on social media which is not fair. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, particularly about football, which is such an emotional game. If you are a former player, if you run a forum or online group or you are a journalist or finance expert, if you are an individual or a group – please treat people with respect and have all the facts if you are trying to influence opinion. Ask the club first for information as we have an open-door policy which I always promote. I will give anyone the truth as chairman, good or bad, why would I tell lies, I am the owner. But you have to believe me, do not go out and say something different like in the past, otherwise there’s no point.

 

When people say things on social media about the players and the manager, they should think a little more, they are human beings too. Would the people who write these things like it if they were criticised publicly day in, day out? With many comments that cross the line? Or if people went to their families? Of course not. But they do it with no responsibility, which is easy. Maybe the social media companies need to look at their own policies to make sure everyone has that responsibility.

 

 

https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/sport/football/news/exclusive-sheffield-wednesday-owner-dejphon-18000368

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Posted (edited)

I’m surprised that his intention is still to hand the club over to his son. I would have thought that he be looking for a way out tbh. On a personal level it must have been a very expensive and stressful 5 years I would imagine

Edited by Stoop

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17 minutes ago, torres said:

 

Thanks for that - a good read.

 

He really is stubborn, and consistent and is clearly going to do it his way. Fair enough, he will succeed or fail and only time will tell.

 

Interesting that he is still saying he will hand the club over to his young un. He's clearly here for the long term.

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1 minute ago, Animis said:

 

Thanks for that - a good read.

 

He really is stubborn, and consistent and is clearly going to do it his way. Fair enough, he will succeed or fail and only time will tell.

 

Interesting that he is still saying he will hand the club over to his young un. He's clearly here for the long term.


I won’t have a go at anyone for making a genuine mistake - which he has done on a fair few different issues 

 

What I get annoyed about is a failure to admit the mistake, a failure to learn from the mistake and then doing the mistake again & again....which he has done on a fair few different issues 

 

Until HIS mentality changes the club can’t grow in my opinion 

 

 

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Good answers if not slightly generic. Don’t like the dig at Waddle. Think he has just expressed the frustrations that fans have with how things have been. Still love to know what initiated the wheels falling off from Boxing Day onwards. Something has gone on with respect to that.

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8 minutes ago, torres said:


I won’t have a go at anyone for making a genuine mistake - which he has done on a fair few different issues 

 

What I get annoyed about is a failure to admit the mistake, a failure to learn from the mistake and then doing the mistake again & again....which he has done on a fair few different issues 

 

Until HIS mentality changes the club can’t grow in my opinion 

 

 

 

I think there's a lot of expecting cultural hierarchy respect in the answers - he believes we should simply accept his honesty and best of intentions and go with him.

 

He doesn't like the veil of anonymity of social media does he.

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9 minutes ago, Animis said:

 

I think there's a lot of expecting cultural hierarchy respect in the answers - he believes we should simply accept his honesty and best of intentions and go with him.

 

He doesn't like the veil of anonymity of social media does he.


the fact he takes any notice worries me 

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I found the interview a bit dull and disappointing. I have never been to the fans forums but got the impression Chansiri shoots from the hip in these.

In the above interview it comes across as the answers have been filtered through some lawyers and PR executives. Uses a lot of words without saying much at all.

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Good interview and backs up a point I made previously about ticket pricing.

 

He drops the prices and revenue doesn't go up. So the club is correct in its approach. It has to maximise revenue.

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Who are the ‘very experienced senior management team’? One of the main issues is nobody has a point of referral at the club. There’s just Monk then Chansiri.. anyone else is completely invisible to us

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22 minutes ago, Animis said:

 

I think there's a lot of expecting cultural hierarchy respect in the answers - he believes we should simply accept his honesty and best of intentions and go with him.

 

He doesn't like the veil of anonymity of social media does he.

 

It's the out and out abuse which he doesn't like and who would?  Criticise yes, but you don't have to be abusive about it.

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6 minutes ago, timrud said:

Good interview and backs up a point I made previously about ticket pricing.

 

He drops the prices and revenue doesn't go up. So the club is correct in its approach. It has to maximise revenue.

 

The saying of knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing springs to mind 

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15 minutes ago, torres said:


the fact he takes any notice worries me 

 

Would you ?  If Dave off the Manor was having a go at you?

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Decent interview in the main. Probably won’t satisfy his critics but I suspect whatever he says or does, he probably never will?

 

As for his long term plans including improving the training ground and passing the club on to his son, only time will tell but I wish him the best of luck but at the moment we all have more pressing issues to deal with.

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7 minutes ago, Inspector Lestrade said:

 

Would you ?  If Dave off the Manor was having a go at you?


no, that’s my point.

 

Any adult male that puts anything on twitter (non work related) needs looking at 

 

Anyone that takes any notice is beyond help!!

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2 minutes ago, torres said:


no, that’s my point.

 

Any adult male that puts anything on twitter (non work related) needs looking at 

 

Anyone that takes any notice is beyond help!!

 

Takes a thick skin not to.  

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8 minutes ago, Inspector Lestrade said:

 

Takes a thick skin not to.  


Or some intelligence and class 

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51 minutes ago, torres said:


the fact he takes any notice worries me 


Hard not to the amount of shi5te that gets thrown about 

 

But they’ll be someone along shortly to say it’s not true , and even if it was he shouldn’t take any notice of it (which makes it ok) 

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53 minutes ago, LondonOwl313 said:

Who are the ‘very experienced senior management team’? One of the main issues is nobody has a point of referral at the club. There’s just Monk then Chansiri.. anyone else is completely invisible to us

Yes, agreed. 
 

Good questions asked about the absence of a CEO and a Director of Football. 
 

IMHO, his answers to these questions are a bit flaky and unconvincing

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