Sheffield United: Another twist in ownership battle as share transfer put on hold
The battle for control of Sheffield United has taken another twist after it emerged Kevin McCabe, who owns half of the Premier League club, was not ordered to immediately transfer his shareholding to HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's despite the Saudi Arabian's victory at the High Court this week.
Confirming his lawyers are considering an appeal against the verdict, which paves the way for Prince Abdullah to become United's sole-owner, McCabe suggested Mr Justice Fancourt had sought to provide him with "some protection" should he challenge all or part of Monday's ruling.
A statement, issued on behalf of McCabe and his family, also reiterated they continue to own United's property holdings, including the Steelphalt Academy and Bramall Lane itself, which Prince Abdullah has been given until July to acquire.
"Neither is it strictly correct to say that the court has ordered us to give up our shares in Sheffield United," McCabe is quoted as saying. "It is true that at some stage we shall have to cede control to Prince Abdullah, but as matters stand no such order has been made and we are very carefully considering an appeal which, if successful, would result in the reversal of the judge’s order in whole or in part.
"It seems that the Judge has thought that some protection might be appropriate or us in the event that we were to win an appeal. The McCabe family also remain the owners of the Stadium and associated real estate."
At the beginning of his statement McCabe, who effectively gifted Prince Abdullah 50 per cent of United's parent company in return for certain financial guarantees, referred to a "devious plan" by his former associate to "evade the shareholders' agreement" which paved the way for their partnership in 2013. That refers to the transfer of shares from the company Prince Abdullah uses to represent his interests in United to another, which prevented him from crossing the 75 per cent ownership threshold required to immediately trigger the purchase of sites including United's ground and training complex. Speaking after Mr Justice Fancourt's decision was announced, Prince Abdullah insisted "we want to own our stadium and plan to complete this integration within the coming year."
In the statement, which was distributed to the media, McCabe and his family also outlined numerous "misgivings" about the situation which has unfolded since this summer's three week long hearing in London.
"We were notified at 15:23 yesterday (Monday) afternoon by the court that, despite considerable pressure from Prince Abdullah’s lawyers, the judge has not at this stage ordered the McCabes to give up their 50 per cent holding in Sheffield United," their spokesperson said. "The judge has not yet given reasons for his decision but we had asked our legal team to provide full protection for the McCabe family pending appeal such that any transfer should not be unconditional.
"We will obviously abide by any order that the court may make, but are concerned that Prince Abdullah does not run amuck with the club’s finances while we are seeking to pursue an appeal."