Chris Wilder's admission about potential new signings as club prepares for official change of ownership

Sheffield United could reward those players who have agreed to remain at Bramall Lane until the end of the Premier League season with new deals, Chris Wilder has suggested, after admitting his transfer budget has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 7:50 am

The United manager, who also confirmed he has triggered a one year extension to John Lundstram’s contract, cited Phil Jagielka and Richairo Zivkovic as two members of his squad who could be invited to stay next term having pledged to help his team complete the rescheduled campaign.

Predicting United - whose transfer of ownership to HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is set to be officially completed this month when he purchases the club’s property assets from former co-owner Kevin McCabe - could lose up to £30m because of the decision to mothball the fixture schedule for three months, Wilder said: “Our landscape has definitely changed. I’m not embarrassed to say that. We will lose a chunk of change. Maybe £20m-£30m, although that might be a question for (chief executive) Steve Bettis. So that does affect investment, and also in the next few days, when the transfer will go through from one owner to another.

“I’ll do my best to see what will make the group better for next year. You can’t stand still in this division.”

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H.R.H Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Sa'ud listens as Chief Executive Stephen Bettis speaks at a press conference introducing the new owners of Sheffield United  at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
H.R.H Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Sa'ud listens as Chief Executive Stephen Bettis speaks at a press conference introducing the new owners of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“It’s something, longer term deals, that has been going on in the background,” Wilder added. “The John Lundstram deal is on the table and we’ll be triggering it.”

Although it would not be a major surprise if Jagielka begins next term in South Yorkshire - capped 40 times by England, he is the most experienced player at United’s disposal - Wilder’s comments on Zivkovic are intriguing given that he recently confirmed it no longer makes financial sense to activate a buy-out clause in the agreement which saw him move to England from Changchun Yatai. They suggest the Chinese club could be amenable to reducing the amount they had previously demanded for the former Ajax centre-forward, or restructuring the payment programme. Lundstram had been set to become a free agent this morning, as negotiations over a new deal continue.

With Zivkovic set to feature in the squad which faces Tottenham Hotspur this evening, Wilder said: “Regarding budgets and whatever, with Richairo, it’s moving all the time.

“It was a loan with a view and it still is. There’s conversations we’ve had in terms of overall (squad) structure. Some players will go out, some will be released. Richairo is with us for another month and we’ll see what happens.”

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder with new signing Richairo Zivkovic, following his move to Bramall Lane in January: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“There are decisions to make,” Wilder added. “Jags has brought a great amount of experience into the group. There’s decisions to be made and budgets to be finalised. This is a moving situation. Even though I’ve said the numbers, nobody knows when supporters will be in grounds. So sponsorship deals, of all kinds, they could be affected to. Jags has put himself in the situation to earn a new contract. But it’s a moving situation, he understands that.”

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John Lundstram of Sheffield United holds his arm before going off injured during the FA Cup match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage