“I love sport and money" - Sheffield United owner to buy another club for his United World empire - how will it affect the Blades
Prince Abdullah, Sheffield United's owner, is close to securing another club for his ever-growing United World empire after a deal was agreed to buy French second division club Chateauroux.
The Saudi already has stakes or controlling interests in a number of clubs besides the Blades, including ones in Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and India, under the United World umbrella.
But after the takeover of struggling Chateauroux - who are bottom of the Ligue 2 table with just four wins in their 28 games so far this season - Prince Abdullah says United World will take a year out of acquiring clubs around the world, to focus on their current stable.
“We have been interested in Chateauroux for some time, and negotiations have taken a long time," the prince said.
"The club’s position in the second division table is now very difficult, but I am optimistic about its future.
“I love sport and money. When I invested in England and Belgium, I was happy. But for France, I have a special feeling because it’s a country that reminds me of childhood.
“My memories are numerous and my brother was born there.
“I know that Chateauroux is not far from Paris - another reason to please me when I am in France, besides the restaurants, the cafes and walks in beautiful Paris.”
The United World logo can be spotted on the backdrop to Chris Wilder's press conferences at United, with the ultimate long-term aim to co-ordinate a pyramid of clubs at different levels to develop players.
The different clubs under the united umbrella also work together on other aspects, including marketing, retail and their youth academies.
United World's chief executive Abdullah Alghamdi watched Chateauroux's last game, before reaching an agreement about the takeover, according to the prince.
Reports in the French media estimated that the club is available for around £2.4m. “I think the amount is higher but I do not want to divulge it,” said the prince.
“When we buy a club, we have several objectives.
“To raise the level of the club, the facilities and the level of the team. The most important thing is to do it over time.
“I’m happy that we own clubs from three of the four countries that reached the last semi finals of the World Cup — England, Belgium and France.
“I remember the French team of Platini, Giresse, Tigana and Rocheteau. When I was young, Platini was my favorite player when he was playing in Italy with Juventus.”
United World's empire has seen the likes of Ismaila Coulibaly and George Broadbent join Beerschot on loan, but there are some concerns amongst a portion of United fans that their owner is expanding his empire - especially while their side struggles in the Premier League and Beerschot impress against the odds in the Belgian Pro League.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, United's chief executive Stephen Bettis reiterated that United are at the head of the United World pyramid.
“From a Sheffield United perspective, there are only upsides to this," Bettis said.
"There are no downsides. The club is at the top of the pyramid. If there is anyone they like or want to look at, it is one phone call and it happens."