Alan Biggs: Current boardroom stand-off at Sheffield United could be most self-destructive in my 40 years covering the Blades
Chris Wilder is the big worry. But it isn't the only one. Far from it.
Sheffield United, like any club, is bigger than one man, as that man himself would be the first to agree. It’s why he wouldn’t walk out on a whim. It’s why he posted fair warning of his discontent. Which – think about it - he wouldn’t have done if he had any desire to leave. He absolutely hasn’t.
If it comes to that – and with Sunderland genuinely lurking the next week to a fortnight will decide - it will be one of the saddest days in United’s history. And quite possibly the most acrimonious. But the ownership issue goes deeper even than that. Far deeper.
Who would field any dreaded approach for Wilder’s services? Which owner would reply on behalf of the club? Suppose one wanted to reject it and the other wished to grant permission?
And then: who would lead the search for a new manager? Would the owners agree on a choice? How could they lure the “right man” to a club in disunity and limbo?
That’s before we get round to player contracts and setting next season’s budget. Just as well the owners are reportedly about to talk at last, as this column implored last week. And a bridging resolution, pending legalities, has to be swift.
So many unanswered questions otherwise. When it comes to how Wilder has been feeling about his future, you have the answer right there. By the way, no, he hasn’t voiced support for one owner over the other and, no, he hasn’t made financial demands.
Which is not to say that money doesn’t matter. It does if United are to progress. It’s just the need for a plan, any plan. We know he can maximise limited resources.
As for the protagonists in the boardroom, well, in fairness, this whole wretched scenario is probably neither of their fault. Yes, there was a provision for Prince Abdullah to take full control - I was there at his unveiling in 2013 when it was clearly stated.
And yes, Kevin McCabe will undoubtedly feel he has flexibility over his terms. It is circumstances that have forced this sorry episode, much as people like to have someone to blame.
My simple wish has been for the two to start talking again. If they don’t it is the club, and themselves, they are damaging. Everybody loses, including, most importantly, the fans. That’s too high a price to pay for any stubbornness or intransigence. As is losing a great manager.
I have seen some shambolic situations in more than 40 years of covering Sheffield football. Unchecked, this - from what should be a position of great strength – could be the most self-destructive of them all.