For the third pre-season Stoke were looking for a new manager but the directors were finding difficult with first choice Tony Pulis joining Bristol City openly admitting that he felt the board lacked ambition. Second choice was Gary Megson and accepted the job offers as did John Rudge who became director of football. Stoke slowly built up some decent results but there were still tensions between fans and the board and so when news spread that an Icelandic business consortium wanted to take over it became a no-brainer. Unfortunately for Megson new chairman Gunnar Gíslason appointed his own man, former Iceland national manager Gudjon Thordarson. In came a number of Icelandic players and the side did well winning the Football League Trophy and reached the play-offs against Gillingham. After beating the "Gills" 3–2 in the first leg, two controversial refereeing decisions cost Stoke dearly and they lost the second leg 3–0.
For the third consecutive summer, Stoke were hunting for a new manager, this time they had a clear favourite, Tony Pulis. However Pulis decided to join Bristol City after openly admitting that he felt the board lacked ambition. Second choice was Gary Megson, hard working and honest manager in the same mould as Pulis and he accepted Stoke's job offer. He appointed Nigel Pearson as his assistant and surprisingly John Rudge was made director of football after spending a long time at Port Vale. There was little expectation as the season began with some steady if unspectacular results and by the end of August Lárus Sigurðsson was sold to West Bromwich Albion for £350,000.Peter Thorne was proving to be a top player in the Second Division he scored the first few of his 30 goals. Stoke then went on a nine match unbeaten run and lifted themselves into the play-offs. In October new spread that an Group of Icelandic businessmen were interested in taking control of the club and by mid November Stoke fans had their wishes granted and Gunnar Gíslason completed the Icelandic takeover under the name of Stoke Holding.
Gary Megson through no fault of his own was replaced by Gudjon Thordarson and in came a number of Icelandic players and the new era began well with Stoke beating Wycombe Wanderers 4–0 away. There was now a much better feeling about the club with the injection of new money and players but this was knocked back greatly in early 2000. On 23 February 2000 arguably one of the greatest footballers the world has ever seen Stanley Matthews died at the age of 85. Matthews was not just a club legend but also to Stoke-on-Trent as a whole. He was remembered in a perfect way with Stoke beating Chesterfield 5–1 with Thorne scoring four goals.