Selahattin Baki, the Sheffield United director, has unveiled an ambitious plan to establish relationships with former Saudi Arabian champions Al-Hilal and Turkish giants Fenerbahce, writes James Shield.
Baki, who joined Bramall Lane’s board after Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad became co-owner of the League One club, insisted the scheme could provide lucrative benefits for David Weir’s side.
“It’s something in the future I would love to do,” Baki told The Star. “There are many possibilities and the contacts to try and make it possible.
“Whether or not it is, time will tell, but it is definitely something we shall be trying to do. I know people at Fenerbahce and, of course, the prince is connected with Al-Hilal so why not?
“If we are successful, it could lead to us (United) playing friendly tournaments against them which, hopefully, is something the fans would enjoy. There could be other footballing advantages too.”
Fenerbahce, the richest team in Turkey, have lifted the Super Lig title 18 times while Al-Hilal, where Prince Abdullah holds an honorary position after serving as president until 2004, were crowned Asian Football Confederation champions in 1991 and 2000.
The 47-year-old, who last weekend raised the possibility of arranging a friendly between the Saudis and United, hopes his multi-million pound investment can see the latter regain top-flight status by 2019.
“I know that might sound ambitious,” Prince Abdullah said. “But why not try?”
Baki, a Turkish national, acknowledged he wanted to maximise United’s commercial potential following Prince Abdullah’s arrival in South Yorkshire but insisted improving fortunes on the pitch - Weir’s charges are placed 19th following Saturday’s defeat by Rotherham - is the new regime’s immediate priority.
“For me, you must always look to give something back to the supporters,” Baki said. “One of the biggest sadnesses of football now is that it has become too much about commercial things and not about the people.
“Of course, you have to have the commercial aspects and to make what you can. But, at the same time, you must not forget about fans.
“In many places, football now is happy to take things from its supporters without giving much in return. That is not something I like or enjoy.
“Which is why we will be trying hard to make our fans happy and give something to them.”