How Sheffield United's owners are addressing the big property question

HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has taken sole responsibility for financing the purchase of various properties, held by former co-owner Kevin McCabe, as ordered by a High Court judge during the battle for control of the Premier League club.

Thursday, 13th February 2020, 5:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 5:22 pm

Steve Bettis, United’s chief executive, confirmed the Saudi Arabian and his advisors are in charge of funding a deal which would see the Steelphalt Academy training complex, a development centre at Crookes and Bramall Lane itself added to their portfolio of interests.

Mr Justice Fancourt ordered those assets must be transferred by July when he ruled in Prince Abdullah’s favour at the end of a hearing into the fall-out between the 54-year-old and McCabe last year.

“The deal is that it gets done by the summer,” Bettis, who appeared as a witness during the dispute, said. “It's paid for by the club but ultimately Prince Abdullah owns the club and what money's required to cover that, if needed, will come from him.

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“Ultimately every penny and how it's utilised is down to him but I think you can see from how he's gone about his business and supported us so far, I can't have any complaints.”

Bettis, described by Mr Justice Fancourt as having “equal” regard for the capabilities of McCabe and Prince Abduallah in his written findings, was referring to the latter’s work since the Autumn ruling.

Five new players arrived at United during the transfer window, including record signing Sander Berge following a £22m move from Genk. Bettis confirmed before flying to United’s mid-season training camp in Dubai that the recruitment budget which had initially been placed at manager Chris Wilder’s disposal had been redrafted when it became the clear the midfielder, who featured on United’s radar over the summer, had become available.

Although McCabe was recently refused permission to appeal the judgement which saw Prince Abdullah seize the reins, ending his near two-and-a-half year membership of the club’s board, Mr Justice Fancourt noted “I therefore agree with SUL that neither SUL nor UTB must wilfully obstruct or hinder the re-unification of the property assets,” after publishing his verdict on their dispute.

Sheffield United's manager Chris Wilder and chief executive Steve Bettis (L): Scott Merrylees

SUL is the company McCabe used to hold his stake in United’s parent company while UTB was created to represent Prince Abdullah’s share following his appointment as co-owner in 2013.

With United investing around £70m in fresh talent after being promoted from the Championship in July – they climbed to fifth in the Premier League table following last weekend’s win over AFC Bournemouth – Bettis said: “I don't think fans need to worry. Chris can vouch for it and you only need to look at what's happened in January when we knew that was happening before January.

That shows the intent of the owner and the board to support Chris and the first team. I don't think that changes but it's done properly, in a sustainable way, so it's not boom and bust.”

Sheffield United's property interests, including Bramall Lane, must be reunited with the club by July: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Kevin McCabe during a Premier League match at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage