Alan Biggs: Princely sums add up to a well run club at Bramall Lane

HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
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There are those who will tell you that nothing has changed as an anniversary passes almost unnoticed. A year on from a much-fanfared investment, Sheffield United are facing a significant challenge just to escape from League One.

The amount pumped in from Saudi Arabia was never revealed; nor the projection on future investment.

And when Blades backer Prince Abdullah stepped away from an active input, to become his country’s minister for sport, the cynics licked their lips.

In the absence of concrete figures, their case could be argued without fear of irrefutable contradiction. Why should this be any different to those other rainbows that lacked a pot of gold?

After all – and here I would have to agree to some extent – there has not been what you might call a “marquee” signing since the Prince’s Big Top came to town.

But here’s what the club has done and it’s important...avoided a circus! Look 35 miles up the M1 for the kind of “performance” that can unfold from foreign ownership and commonly does.

And where are those bulging chequebooks? Seemingly not at Leeds while, across this city, a rival club is embracing the truth of the old saying “better the devil you know.”

At Bramall Lane, the “devil”, for want of a better term, is long-time owner Kevin McCabe and the key to a harmonious progression is his shared football club tie-up with the Prince.

You might feel that progress is slow - even against last season’s meteoric revival and a steady climb to sixth place – but a club’s status isn’t the only measure of whether it is heading in the right direction. It is the way it goes about things.

Yes, a headline signing, a Billy Sharp return for example, would have made a more emphatic statement. In loan market terms, something of that sort may still be needed to sway the argument across the board. And, as Nigel Clough rightly concedes, United’s performance needs upping.

However, I would defy anyone to tell me the club is not well run under this regime and this manager. And what a contrast that makes with the general mayhem in ownership terms.

I can hear the name Harry Maguire and the cry that the boast of never being forced to sell another young talent proved false. But how do you stop a player climbing two divisions and multiplying his wages in the Premier League? And how do you top £2.5m – an excellent return – for a League One centre back?

It is for third-tier status reasons, as well, that Clough will struggle to attract the “name” supporters crave.

But there is clearly money in the budget and, just as importantly, Clough and his trusted MD Mal Brannigan are in charge of it – without having to chase the board for an answer.

As for exact amounts, how foolish would it be if figures (the Prince’s investment remains in the care of his aide Jim Phipps) were released? I think it adds up anyway. It figures.