‘Sheffield United co-owner Prince Abdullah hired adviser to wear down Kevin McCabe’
Sheffield United co-owner Prince Abdullah hired an adviser to ‘wear down’ his ‘dominant’ rival Kevin McCabe in a bid to win the battle for ownership of the club, it has been claimed.
Paul Downes QC, Mr McCabe’s lawyer, made the accusation during day nine of the High Court battle between the two owners.
During the day’s proceedings, Yusuf Giansiracusa also accused Kevin McCabe of ‘xenophobia’, claiming he wanted directors to have an ‘understanding of Sheffield’.
Cross-examining Mr Giansiracusa in front of Judge Mr Justice Fancourt, Mr Downes QC said the lawyer was hired to win the fight by ‘attrition’.
He said: “Prince Abdullah thought you would wear down the McCabes and if there was a conflict you would win by attrition.”
Mr Giansiracusa replied: “I doubt very much he was thinking that way. Prince Abdullah thinks positive of other people and gives them the benefit of the doubt.What I think he thought was that: ‘Here was a club that had been dominated by the McCabes for the best part of 20 years’. There was no question that Mr [Kevin] McCabe was a dominant force in the organisation.”
But Mr Downes then said: “You would relentlessly pursue this, such that if there was conflict you would win the conflict by attrition.
“It was seen as potentially a war of attrition and that’s how you were going to win.”
During a heated exchange, the adviser responded: “Mr Downes, I understand you have a legal theory and you are trying to have the facts to conform to the theory but that’s not a particularly good method of scientific explanation.”
He added: “In my view, we had no long term strategy. There was simply the very original plan and unexceptional desire to see the company ran like you would want and, in particular, one that respected the rights of both parties.”
An extract of Mr Giansiracusa’s witness statement was read to the court, in which he claimed Kevin McCabe was ‘xenophobic’ as he wanted directors to attend all United games and said they should have an understanding of Sheffield.
He said: “I was troubled by their [McCabes’] apparent assumption that a director must be present at each match.”
Mr Giansiracusa also accused Kevin McCabe of ‘interfering’ with player selection and would ‘call the manager’ but added Prince Abdullah ‘style’ was to ‘let management do its job’ and ‘hold them to account but not interfere’.
SUL, the company owned by the McCabes, has alleged ‘conspiracy and ‘unfairly prejudicial conduct’ and wants damages.
UTB, controlled by the Saudi prince, wants declarations in respect of its rights under an investment and shareholders’ agreement.
The hearing continues.