The publication of Sheffield United plc’s latest accounts brings several points of interest. They are the first since the sale of 50% of the company’s assets to Prince Abdullah.
It was not made clear at the time of the Prince’s investment exactly what he had got for his pound, but the accounts explain he has no control over any of the club’s material assets, such as Bramall Lane and the Academy.
There was some concern a while ago when Kevin McCabe announced that the football club would no longer own the ground or the Academy. Some people refuse to believe that he has propped the club up rather than take money out of it.
Yes, he has made bad decisions and wasted a lot of money, but without him we might have gone the way of Coventry or Portsmouth. Is it better to have somebody (despite his faults) you know, see around the place and can talk to or a faceless holding company hidden away on some Caribbean island or at the far end of Eastern Europe?
The figures that stand out are that the operating loss was reduced to £5.6 million (from £12m the year before) and that the wage bill was reduced by £4.1m. All forms of income were lower, so cost-cutting was crucial everywhere. They tell us the club is now ‘a more efficient business’ and that ‘sustainability is at the heart of decision-making’. McCabe finishes his chairman’s report by saying: ‘Success on the field will be achieved in the not too distant future.’ You see, he’s got everything under control (!).
The problem is that ‘sustainability’ must mean less money for Cloughie to spend, so he has to improve the team with theoretically worse players. But we’ve seen from Walsall and others that it is possible to build good teams on small budgets.