Kevin McCabe, Sheffield United’s co-owner, today vehemently denied claims that a lack of investment is the major factor behind the club’s current plight.
McCabe, speaking ahead of the League One fixture with Port Vale, described United’s mid-table position as “unacceptable” but reassured supporters that steps are being taken, in tandem with manager Nigel Adkins, to address the situation with funding available during the emergency loan window.
Confirming that fellow co-owner Abdullah bin Musa’ed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has pumped £15m into Bramall Lane’s coffers since acquiring a 50 per cent stake in United less than three years ago, McCabe acknowledged that “mistakes” have been made both on and off the pitch in recent seasons but said: “All Blades fans are
hurting as a result of our position in League One, particularly after spending far too long in this division. Expectations are rightly much higher than playing at this level, and everyone connected with the club believes the current position is unacceptable.
“When other teams visit Bramall Lane they’re taken aback by the quality of our stadium, academy and other facilities – all geared up for the Premier League and definitely not the third tier of English football. Add to that our magnificent supporter base – which has remained solid and steadfast – then we do deserve better – much better, than where we are at the present time. Rest assured, our position is not a result of lack of effort, investment or ambition from the owners, my family’s investment over the years amounts to around £90 million and Prince Abdullah has in a short space of time contributed a further £15 million. In this season alone, the joint owners have, in total, put in £8 million of money. The notion of ‘owners taking money out of the club’ is too ridiculous for words as I think any fair-minded fan recognises how Bramall Lane has been extended and extensively improved from what it was some 15 years ago, to become a ‘Premier Stadium’ alongside developing a highly ranked first class academy at Shirecliffe and a junior development centre at Crookes. Lest we forget, in the summer of last year alone, over £1.8 million was spent on property improvements including upgrading the pitch with a DESSO surface together with new synthetic coverings to the outdoor and indoor pitches at Shirecliffe.”
Adkins, whose side enter the game against Vale ninth in the table, has made no attempt to disguise the fact that the squad he inherited during the close season was too big. Despite echoing those sentiments, McCabe told The Star the situation also disproved theories about the backing provided by United’s board of directors in recent years.
McCabe added: “On the playing front, the number of new recruits brought on board in the last three or four seasons alone exceeded over 40 new players joining the Blades, surely demonstrating our commitment to succeed. Whatever the reasons at the moment, the various costly recruitments have not as yet brought us the success we crave.
“Despite the present difficulties we remain resolute and committed to getting out of this league at the earliest opportunity. I accept that mistakes may have been made both on and off the field, which for a variety of reasons has resulted in the under-achievement of our first-team. These errors include the appointment of certain previous team managers and coaching staff, all of whom seemed appropriate at the time but with hindsight did not bring positive progress to our proud and fine club. We have tried to learn from past mistakes, and in Nigel Adkins appointed an individual with excellent credentials to undertake the job in hand.”
“Since the misfortune of our relegation from the Premier League in 2007, as a result of the so-called ‘Tevez Affair’, we have had to cope with unforeseeable and extraordinary circumstances which have played their part in halting the progress been made at the time of our promotion back to the top echelon of football in
2006,” McCabe continued. “Any reasonable minded supporter acknowledges that were it not in part for ill-luck, we should surely by now be playing in a higher league. This statement is not proffered as an excuse but as a rational assessment in understanding some of the reasons for failure to date to meet our objectives in spite of applying best efforts coupled with major funding. One only needs to look at the number of play-off matches the Blades have lost in recent times to think that luck has not been on our side and thus hopefully in the months and years ahead, fortune will turn to favour the Blades.”
McCabe’s statement also confronted calls from a section of United’s support base for him to depart Bramall Lane. Reaffirming his commitment, the Scarborough-based businessman nevertheless urged those with a viable alternative or ideas of their own on how best to further United’s ambitions to outline their plans.
McCabe said: “I gather certain supporters have questioned my role in events during the last couple of seasons and suggest that it is time for me to move on. I can only say that for as long I am here serving Sheffield United I will continue to do my utmost to bring success to a club that I have been a fan of since I was a nipper. However, if there are level headed businessmen, either local, national or international who can clearly demonstrate that they have the credentials to work on enhancing the progress of Sheffield United FC, then they should make contact as I am prepared to listen to their proposals.”
McCabe, who dismissed talk of a split among United’s ownership structure, added: “There is no hiding from the fact that we have experienced some dark days of late, where the frustration and disappointment of all supporters is understandable. However, I can say that Sheffield United will rise again with good times returning sooner rather than later. Our history, heritage, facilities and outstanding supporter base makes this inevitable.”