Sheffield United promotion ‘fundamentally changes’ ownership dispute, court hears
Sheffield United’s promotion to the Premier League has ‘fundamentally changed’ the club’s acrimonious ownership dispute, a court has heard.
At the second day of a five week hearing into the claims of former co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah at the High Court in London, the Prince’s legal team presented their case before Mr McCabe was called as the first witness.
Opening the case for Prince Abdullah, Andreas Gledhill QC said promotion meant Sheffield United were now in a much better financial position than before, and his client was now prepared to honour an agreement he struck with Mr McCabe to reunify the club with its property interests.
He said: “These proceedings have now been going on for a year and a half during which time the other side have been complaining about my client not putting those property options into effect.
“However, given the extra money that will flow from promotion, those options can now be exercised. The only thing stopping that is their refusal to agree.”
Mr Gledhill argued this meant the entire basis for Mr McCabe’s claim had gone.
He said there was no evidence that the delay in exercising the property options had caused Mr McCabe any loss at all or that the club had suffered in any way.
Paul Downes QC for Mr McCabe, however, responded by saying Prince Abdullah’s late change of heart was merely ‘another scheme’ designed to frustrate his client’s rights.
The first witness called to give evidence in the case was Kevin McCabe himself.
In his witness statement, he said he had run the club as a benefactor and assumed Prince Abdullah shared this approach.
He said his family had put in £100m over 12 years into Sheffield United and believed the Prince shared his vision for the club.
“Clearly though, we both wanted to get the club back up to the Premier League where there was monetary gain to be achieved for SUFC,” he added.
However, under cross-examination by Mr Gledhill, it was suggested Mr McCabe’s actions during this period were motivated more by a desire to get his money back rather than affection for the club.
Mr McCabe insisted the he simply wanted Sheffield United to succeed on the pitch and felt that attracting foreign investment was the best way of doing this.
Mr Gledhill also sought to portray Mr McCabe as an interfering owner who felt he was being undermined by new faces.
Mr McCabe responded that showing an interest in the playing side of the club was a natural thing for an co-owner to do.
The case continues.