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Page last updated at 15:50 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 16:50 UK

Wilkinson replaces Strafford as Wednesday chairman

Howard Wilkinson
Wilkinson managed Wednesday between 1983 and 1988

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford has resigned following the club's relegation to League One.

Strafford will be replaced on an interim basis by former Wednesday and Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson.

Strafford cited disappointment that "the investment process has not resulted in a more positive outcome".

The Owls insist his departure was not directly linked to the rejection of investment from Chicago-based sports company Club 9 Sports last week.

Strafford, a businessman who made his name with Sheffield-based internet provider PlusNet, joined the board at Hillsborough in December 2008, becoming chairman in January 2009.

In a statement published on the club's website, he said: "I am proud of what we have achieved in terms of completely revitalising all of the off-field activities of the club.

"This was achieved by a purposeful strategy of re-engaging our fans in a positive and customer focused manner, by improving the quality and delivery of all key retail functions including ticketing, hospitality, food and beverage and merchandise and by repositioning the club as a community hub, which also allowed the club to re-establish positive working relationships with the local business community.

"While we also managed to turn around completely the medical side of football operations, restructuring of the first team operations did not happen fast enough to avoid the bitter pill of relegation to League One."

He continued: "For me, Sheffield Wednesday can continue to grow without external investment until such time as it needs to consolidate its position back in the Premier League. This is even more applicable while in League One.

"I believe that in Alan Irvine and his team there is now something in place that can build a football team which fans can be proud of and the values of which we can all identify with. With the fans' full support we can take the club straight back into the Championship and push on from there.

Wilkinson insisted he had only taken the position of chairman on a temporary basis.

He said: "My focus now is on working with Alan Irvine to build a strong team and one that is capable of achieving promotion back to the Championship as soon as possible.

"It has been a tough few weeks for everybody who cares about Sheffield Wednesday but by working together, we must try to ensure that we are able to look forward to a brighter season ahead."

The club said the departure of Strafford was not directly linked to the rejection of investment from Chicago-based sports company Club 9 Sports last week.

Listen to a one-hour special on the resignation of Sheffield Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford on BBC Radio Sheffield's Football Heaven:

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see also
Wednesday reject investment offer
14 May 10 |  Sheff Wed
Irvine denies Coventry interest
14 May 10 |  Sheff Wed
Owls chairman to meet investors
05 May 10 |  Sheff Wed
FA to probe Hillsborough trouble
04 May 10 |  Sheff Wed

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