Sheffield United: Boss makes brutally frank admission about timing of takeover talk

Speculation surrounding a potential takeover of Sheffield United is “not ideal”, manager Paul Heckingbottom has told The Star, as his team battles to qualify for the Championship play-offs.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 5:00 am

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Sheffield United: When Iliman Ndiaye appeared set to leave Bramall Lane

Henry Mauriss is interested in acquiring control of the club with details of the American media tycoon’s approach to its current owner, HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, emerging last week.

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Paul Heckingbottom, the manager of Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

News of their talks overshadowed United’s preparations for Saturday’s game against Cardiff City, which saw Iliman Ndiaye score the only goal of the game early in the second-half. The result left Heckingbottom’s side sixth in the table with two matches of the regular season remaining.

Speaking afterwards, he admitted: “It’s not ideal, the talk. But if there is something in it, then of course it’s significant.

“It would be foolish for us to take out eye off the ball. It’s all about the football. For me, right now, that’s the only thing that matters to me going forward.”

Sheffield United owner H.R.H Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) and chief executive Stephen Bettis: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

After meeting a number of potential investors over the past few months, Prince Abdullah and his board recently entered into advanced negotiations with Mauriss; the chief executive of Clear TV, a California company which provides broadcast content for sites including airports and healthcare facilities. Mauriss was previously linked with Newcastle, before a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund acquired the Premier League outfit. However Mike Ashley, Newcastle’s then owner who has also been linked with United, was reportedly frustrated by the slow pace of Mauriss’ proposed buy-out. United have also yet to confirm suggestions that his £115m bid has been accepted.

Speaking to this newspaper on Friday, the English Football League insisted they would “not comment on change of control matters”.

As his attention turned towards this week’s clash with Queens Park Rangers, Heckingbottom predicted defender George Baldock would be available for selection after missing the victory over Steve Morison’s team. He also quashed fears that goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is a doubt for the visit to Loftus Road after requiring treatment during the contest.

Sheffield United beat Cardiff City 1-0 at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“George, we’ve done the scan and there’s a bit of damage (to a hamstring),” Heckingbottom said. “But he should be fit going forward. Wes, he’s okay. He just felt something. No problem there.”