Sheffield United High Court case: A recap as evidence comes to an end

Fifteen days of evidence, more than three weeks of battle – the Sheffield United High Court case has certainly not been dull.

By Sam Cooper
Friday, 14 June, 2019, 13:51

And, with one final damning claim about money being invested into the club from the Bin Laden family, judge Mr Justice Fancourt has now heard all he will hear in terms of deciding who will own the Blades.

United co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah have been locked in dispute since launching rival takeover bids in 2017 and now the details of the row have been made public in the court case.

Prince Abdullah told the court he ‘tried his best’ to persuade the Bin Laden family to invest in the club.

Mr Justice Fancourt will now hear from share and property valuation experts from both SUL, a company controlled by Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah's UTB.

Counsel for both companies will then attempt to condense 15 days of evidence and countless bundles of statements and documentation into their final submissions and oral closing submissions.

It will then be up to the judge to decide on who should own the club - and that decision will come as Chris Wilder and his players prepare to compete in the country's top flight for the first time in 12 years.

Sheffield United co-owner Kevin McCabe strenuously denied claims he was 'devious'.

The case has given fans a real insight into how the club has been run over the last few years and has revealed information which would never otherwise have got into the public domain.

While football clubs are essentially businesses and have no right to disclose any such information into the public arena, the case has offered loyal fans who part with their hard-earned money to follow the Blades a better understanding of the situation.

And at times exchanges in court have been bitter.

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Mr McCabe has been described as 'stubborn' and 'xenophobic', with UTB counsel claiming he felt it was important for directors to have an 'understanding of Sheffield'.

Sheffield United owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abulaziz Al Saud

While the Saudi Prince was accused by SUL barristers of not having the amounts of money he claimed to.

One of the more memorable exchanges came when it was revealed that SUL said it was not going to stump up any additional funds for manager Chris Wilder to spend in the transfer window of January 2018.

A board meeting was held in October 2017, just two days before the Blades beat Leeds United away from home to go top of the Championship. A poor run of form in the second-half of the season saw them finish outside the top six.

Exchanges between those in the witness box and Paul Downes QC, for SUL, and Andreas Gledhill QC, have at times also been heated and there have been several 'I don't know' or 'I cannot recall' answers from witnesses.

Evidence has been offered and, as Mr Justice Fancourt said himself counsel on both make their own 'interpretations' of it, it is now up to the judge to see through such answers and bitterness, in making his decision.

The last day the court sits is Tuesday, June 25 when both parties will make their oral closing submissions to Mr Justice Fancourt.

Mr McCabe has openly said, on a number of occasions, of his desire to 'pass on the baton' and bring in new owners, should SUL get full ownership, while Prince Abdullah is seeking full ownership of the club.

There has certainly been a lot discussed to give Mr Justice Fancourt plenty to think about but the only certainty to come from the case so far, is what an even more remarkable job Chris Wilder has done to secure promotion to the Premier League against such a backdrop.