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By ESPN Staff

Wednesday confirm Alan Irvine as their new boss

Sheffield Wednesday have confirmed the appointment of Alan Irvine as their new manager just ten days after the Scot was controversially sacked by Championship rivals Preston.

The 51-year-old, who has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract, will take over at Hillsborough from Brian Laws, who parted company with the Owls "by mutual consent'' on December 13. Academy coach Sean McAuley had been placed in temporary charge.

Irvine was sacked suddenly from his post as Preston manager after a little over two years in charge at Deepdale and just six months after guiding them to the play-offs.

Irvine said: "I'm delighted to take up the position of manager at Sheffield Wednesday. It's a club with great traditions and a brilliant outlook for the future.

"While the league table shows us that there is a lot of hard work in front of us between now and the end of the current season, it's a challenge I'm relishing and I believe the squad here at Hillsborough is more than capable of pulling away from the current situation at the bottom of the Championship.

"Sheffield Wednesday has made excellent progress off the pitch in the past 12 months and it is now my job to make sure that progress is mirrored on the pitch.

"I'm really looking forward to starting work with the players and I can't wait to get out on the training pitch to start preparing for the vital matches we have coming up this month.''

Preston lost out to Sheffield United in the play-off semi-finals in May, but failed to replicate the form they showed at the end of last season and, after a run of one win in ten league matches, Irvine was shown the door at Deepdale.

Wednesday, still saddled with debts of around £26 million, face a relegation battle after a run of 11 league games without a win has seen them slide to second bottom in the table.

Laws departed soon after last month's 3-0 defeat at Leicester, ending a three-year spell at the club. During that time he worked tirelessly on a limited budget to steer the club to Championship safety and Irvine will have to work under similar circumstances unless the Owls can attract major new investment.

The club appointed American investment bank Inner Circle Sports last summer in a bid to find investors willing to inject £20 million in return for taking control of the club and remain confident of securing a deal.

Wednesday chairman Lee Strafford said: "It was essential for us to secure the best possible candidate to revive the team's fortunes this season but, more importantly, in the long term.

"Alan Irvine brings genuine coaching pedigree to Hillsborough following several years Premier League experience as David Moyes' assistant at Everton and an impressive record in charge at Preston.

"He's a high-calibre manager, respected throughout football, who has proved he can make a team competitive at this level, and we feel very fortunate to have secured his services.''

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