James Shield: Sheffield United takeover must help bring people closer to the game
Meanwhile bankers see the cap on their bonuses get lifted. At the same time as the people were were encouraged to applaud through the pandemic are labelled ‘militant’ for having the temerity to ask for a decent pay rise. Capitalism works. But for whom?
In the middle of a cost of living crisis, most of us are feeling the pinch. Still, Premier League clubs spent millions during last month’s transfer market. Chelsea’s outlay, for example, could probably have covered a small third world country’s debt.
The game has never felt as far away from the people it’s supposed to represent. ‘What has all of this got to do with Sheffield United?’ I hear you ask. In a sense, very little. But then again, quite a lot.
MORE: United have huge potential, Dozy told
As a takeover of the club edges closes, by African businessman Dozy Mmobuosi, the rank and file at Bramall Lane are understandably getting excited about what their club might soon be able to spend. One hopes, without wishing or wanting to sound skittish, a little more than the situation they currently find themselves in where they were placed under a transfer embargo for failing to cover the debts.
Still, if the deal goes through and United get a new owner, Mmbobuosi has a chance to make a difference. Build a club which truly reflects its community and looks out for those within it.
Although the news that Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge were staying was cause for celebration, let’s not pretend that United had the window to end all windows. They did what most other ambitious sides did, which is retain their best players. The only trouble was, because of the situation behind the scenes, they didn’t bring any in. Unlike, say, Middlesbrough, Watford and Burnley who are also chasing promotion.
Still, I’m convinced United have already done enough, and have more than that at their disposal, to secure automatic promotion. Which will be part of the reason why Mmobuosi, who hails from the football made nation of Nigeria - a country whose domestic competition’s profile fails to reflect the passion of its followers - is keen to acquire a team based in the sport’s modern birthplace. The marketing opportunities are endless. Even if people in London fail to recognise the Steel City’s historical importance, hopefully folk in Lagos soon will.
Mmobuosi, if everything goes according to plan, is soon going to be required to articulate his vision for one of the game’s crown jewels. Hopefully - and this is an argument for a future column - it extends beyond spending money. And, as yet, we don’t know how much of his fortune he plans to invest.
Ideally Mmobuosi will also have some ideas about how to bring United closer to its supporters. Encourage transparency, open governance and establish clear lines of communication with the terraces. Ones which always remain open. Not just when it suits.
Because, now more than ever, football could benefit from someone who brings football back to its roots.