Football: Ministers tackle fans' worries at Wednesday

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SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY'S Premiership plight has prompted a group of the city's MPs to seek clarification talks with one of the club's major shareholders.

The role of Wednesday's silent partner, the investment company Charterhouse - which at present has no say in the day-to-day running of the club - is causing concern among long-suffering Owls fans. In March 1997, Charterhouse took a 36 percent stake by investing pounds 15.6m into the club at a time when it was fashionable to float on the Stock Exchange - a move which was discussed and had been in the offing.

But the football market collapsed, leaving Charterhouse with a substantial shareholding which has since plummeted in value, particularly following news of Wednesday's debts of pounds 18m and decline in form. Now fans want to know how Charterhouse intend to react.

The Labour MP Clive Betts has written to the company asking for a meeting in the hope of finding answers. He leads a four-strong group of high-profile supporters, which includes the Secretary of State for Education and Employment, David Blunkett, Bill Michie and the former Wednesday director Joe Ashton.

Betts said: "We are seeking a meeting because we are extremely concerned at the financial plight of the club and the direction in which it is heading. The concerns are quite open and public, but there is a lot of speculation among the fans, and we are just looking for answers as to why things are going wrong... We will not be disclosing any details of our meeting unless Charterhouse is prepared to make a public statement."