Sheffield United: ‘Benefactor model is broken,’ says chief executive

Julian Winter, the new group chief executive of Sheffield United Plc speaks with James Shield at Bramall Lane
Julian Winter, the new group chief executive of Sheffield United Plc speaks with James Shield at Bramall Lane
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Julian Winter, who was yesterday unveiled as Sheffield United’s new chief executive, has described the model of football clubs relying on benefactors as being essentially “broken.”

Winter delivered his verdict after insisting that United can still achieve success despite pressing ahead with efforts to become a sustainable business.

The former Huddersfield Town and Scunthorpe defender said: “At all but the very top level, that model is no longer viable.

“This club needs to look at being sustainable. At the moment, our finances are not at sustainable levels.

“That can’t happen at League One level because of SCMP (Salary Cost Management Protocol). There will still be a requirement for funding (from owner Kevin McCabe) and it wouldn’t be protocol for me to say how much.

“We reported losses in our last accounts and we will do again but they will be significantly less and so that is progress.”

Winter, confirming he will be responsible for “day to day” affairs at Bramall Lane, previously held the same position with United before departing eight months ago.

“I think this is the moment when Kevin McCabe says ‘I will take a step back’ and allow the focus to be on the board,” Winter added. “I’m coming back on the basis that we are all on the same page.

“I answer to the board and the board, for me, is there to advise and chastise.

“When I came in previously, I was working to a five year plan. I’d say we were about 65 per cent there but that may have slipped back a little in the meantime.

“As with all these processes, the hardest step to take is the final step. By that I mean, when we get to the stage when we are only 30 per cent reliant (on a benefactor), taking the leap when that is no longer the case completely.”

Winter, who also enjoyed a brief spell on United’s books during his playing career, continued: “There’s no great explanation as to why I left back then. The club went through significant change and I felt I had a moral obligation to consider my own position after that but we parted on very good terms.”

*Twitter: JamesShield1