Wood new chief of Sheffield Wednesday

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Sheffield Wednesday, the Premier League football club, has moved closer to a flotation on the stock market by appointing Ian Wood, the former head of First Leisure's sports division, as its new chief executive.

Mr Wood took up his duties at the start of the week. The club has not revealed what he will be paid but he is thought to be in line for bonuses and share options if he can float the club.

Sheffield Wednesday yesterday sent its shareholders details of its financial results for the year to 31 May. The club made a loss of pounds 3.2m after splashing out more than pounds 4.3m on transfers, including last season's pounds 3.5m purchase of Beneto Carbone, the Italian football star. The club returned to the black at the operating level, making a profit of pounds 1.84m compared to a loss of pounds 716,000 last year.

Charterhouse Development Capital, the venture capitalists, became the largest shareholder in Sheffield Wednesday last May, paying pounds 15.6m for a 36 per cent stake in the club. The club has used the cash to buy new players such as Paolo Di Canio, another Italian import, from Celtic. Manager David Pleat has been told he has more money to spend on players.

Geoff Arbuthnott, of Charterhouse Development, said: "This new appointment brings us closer to a flotation."

Mr Wood headed First Leisure's bowling and health and fitness business. His exit is one of a growing number of management changes at the leisure group in the wake of the appointment of Michael Grade, the former head of Channel 4, as chairman. Chief executive John Conlan and Nick Tamblyn, who was in charge of the bingo division, have both left.