Sheffield United takeover move can't be used as an excuse for slow recruitment

Sheffield United Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad Al Saud at Bramall Lane last seasonSheffield United Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad Al Saud at Bramall Lane last season
Sheffield United Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad Al Saud at Bramall Lane last season
Alan Biggs on Sheffield United’s proposed takeover and why they can’t afford to just wait around for it to happen

What the latest round of takeover intrigue at Sheffield United simply must NOT be is any reason to fail to prepare for next season. Either a deal happens - quickly - or it doesn’t.

Having called here for the hierarchy to be more openly genuine and proactive about selling, I’d welcome it to the right sort of investors. And the reality of talks with a United States based consortium is not in dispute. Already the deal is understood to be with the EFL awaiting approval, which is encouraging. But it absolutely can’t be embraced as any sort of stalling tactic if approval isn’t forthcoming swiftly - and, let’s be honest, these scenarios can drag on.

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The nagging worry is the timing and recent history. Some fans have been vocal in seeing it as a convenient vehicle (another?) to remove pressure for player investment in this critical transfer window. There is certainly a slight “here we go again” feel about it.

Recent evidence supports the sceptics; two separate deals with what transpired to be highly dubious characters having hung fire for months before being predictably vaporised. The second of those emerged just ahead of the January window in the 2022-23 promotion season. Its collapse was followed by a summer of limbo as Blades owner Prince Abdullah set a theoretical deadline for fresh takeover interest, after which United moved hopelessly late into the market following the sale of their two best players.

I accept in good faith that the hierarchy will at least privately acknowledge strategic mistakes that were a recipe for relegation. Also that announcements of infrastructure investment are a move in the right direction.

The important thing is that this misadventure is not repeated. Takeover proposals, genuine or not, should not remove responsibility for the here and now.

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Even if it is absolutely solid, you can be talking months down the road for completion, by which time United will either be getting it together again on the field or falling further apart. Certainly, it does not sit right for me that the would-be owners have reportedly influenced a contract extension withdrawal to Ben Osborn. That is going over the manager’s head before we even start.

There has also been a certain contradictory element to it. Rightly or wrongly, my firm impression, shared by people closer to it than me, has been that Prince Abdullah does not really want to sell. If he now does, I applaud it. If he can’t personally kick the club on - and there is no shame in that - then surely he should consider its best interests and make way. And I cannot believe that an outfit with so much going for it would not be attractive, indeed have a swarm of interest around it.

United have a strong history, a large fan base, a modern updated stadium and a famed academy. Three Premier League seasons out of the last five shows the potential of the place - and Abdullah has a share of pride in that. He can add to it now by helping oversee a total focus where it needs to be this summer - a massive overhauling of the squad. Only if they are prepared to commit cash unconditionally should the consortium be involved. No more taking eyes off the main ball. Besides, the club’s value is very much linked to its fortunes on the field.

So let’s hope this takeover tango is the last dance of this summer, firmly in the background until or unless anything definite happens. It certainly cannot be an excuse for inertia.

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