Football finance expert tells Sheffield United fans not to worry over loan set-up with Aussie bank

A leading expert in football finance has reassured Sheffield United fans that there is no immediate need to panic over the club’s decision to take a loan from an Australian bank, secured on their parachute payments from the Premier League.

Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd September 2021, 4:45 pm

Documents lodged on Companies House last month confirmed the agreement was still in place, with the London branch of Macquarie bank lending the Blades an undisclosed sum guaranteed against their parachute payments from the Premier League until 2023.

The news, just weeks after the £24m sale of Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal and after a window which saw no permanent signings, led to some Blades fans’ concern over the financial state of their club.

But according to Kieran Maguire, a lecturer in football finance at the University of Liverpool and the author of the Price of Football book, the arrangement in isolation is a relatively common one – especially as clubs battle with the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“You've got to look at a club's financial requirements in both the short and long term, and I think this is dealing with short-term cashflow issues,” Maguire told The Star.

“It’s certainly quite common. Southampton, my club Brighton took out a similar loan from Barclays, West Ham… lots of clubs are involved. And remember, we are coming off the back of the biggest health crisis the world has faced for a century.

“These arrangements were around pre-Covid, but they have accelerated since coronavirus in terms of clubs going to these third parties. Southampton, Derby, Sunderland have borrowed … if I went through the full list, it would be pretty sizeable.

Sheffield United still owe money on some of their assets, thought to include Rhian Brewster: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“But there’s no need to panic on the face of it.”

United suffered a dramatic drop in income after their relegation from the Premier League, while instalments on some of their big-money signings made since winning promotion from the Championship will still be owed to other clubs.

In return for providing the cash upfront, Macquarie charge a fee. Although the exact cost to United is unknown, Maguire believes clubs typically pay between six and eight per cent.

“It isn’t cheap, but it isn’t obscene,” Maguire added.