BLADES IN COURT: Sheffield United could be worth £182m, High Court hears

Sheffield United Football Club could be worth as much as £182m if it became an established Premier League club, a court has heard.

By Dan Hayes
Wednesday, 12 June, 2019, 21:11

The claim came during testimony from two expert witnesses called in the trial that will decide the club’s long-running ownership dispute between Blades co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah.

Football finance expert Douglas Harmer for Prince Abdullah told the court the club could be worth £182m were they able to stay in the top disvision over the long term, but were currently worth between £100m and £120m as a newly promoted club.

Sheffield Utd co-owners Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad bin Abdullah Al Said and Kevin McCabe during the English League One match at Bramall Lane Stadium, Sheffield. Picture date: April 30th 2017. Pic credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

This figure was disputed by Kevin McCabe’s expert witness Nicholas Good, of accountancy firm KPMG, who put the club’s current value at between £88m and £104m, around £14m less than the figure arrived at by Mr Harmer.

Under cross-examination from the opposing side’s lawyers, Paul Downes QC for McCabe and Andreas Gledhill QC for Prince Abdullah, both men sought to justify their valuations of the club.

Mr Gledhill suggested to Mr Good that his valuation of the club was too low, and that the assumptions he had made were a ‘poor substitute’ for better knowledge of the football sector.

Mr Good, however, defended his valuation insisting the distinct possibility of immediate relegation had to be factored in.

“We don’t know how the season is going to turn out or if the club is going to crash back to the Championship,” he said.

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Mr Downes suggested to Mr Harmer that his calculations were ‘opaque’ and didn’t take into account the fact the club’s stadium and other property assets were owned by someone else.

Mr Harmer accepted his judgements were subjective but insisted he had looked at a range of evidence before coming to a conclusion.

He said: “It comes down to the question of saleability. How saleable were Sheffield United in March 2019?

“The strong run of form may have encouraged a potential buyer to invest in the club.”

Both Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah own equal shares in the club but they have clashed over the terms of a buyout provison in the initial agreement drawn up by both parties in 2013.

Mr Justice Fancourt will rule later this year between SUL, a company owned by Mr McCabe and his family, who allege conspracy and unfair prejudice, and Prince Abdullah’s UTB company which wants declarations in respects of its rights under an investment and shareholders’ agreement.

The case continues.