Sheffield United boss speaks out about transfer embargo situation

Paul Heckingbottom insisted the English Football League’s decision to place Sheffield United under a transfer embargo will not distract his players from the challenge of trying to win promotion.
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Speaking after Daniel Jebbison’s early goal saw his second-placed team beat Hull City at Bramall Lane, Heckingbottom acknowledged the situation behind the scenes is not ideal after it emerged they are prohibited from signing new players.

But having seen them move 14 points clear of third, the United manager told The Star: “The club have put a statement out. I haven’t got any more information to share, the EFL have sanctioned us. We’re working hard with the EFL and it’s up to the powers that be.”

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“Since I came in,” he added. “There’s been all sorts for us to deal with. The difference is with this one you guys (the media) are aware of it. I told the lads don’t let it hinder you and we won’t. Whatever the outcome, we’ll deal with it.”

The punishment imposed on United relates to the non-payment of a debt relating to a previous purchase. A number of their biggest names, including Sander Berge and Rhian Brewster, were recruited on deals which saw United spread the associated costs across the course of the player’s contract. A statement, published by the club before the meeting with Liam Rosenior’s side, outlined a set of “unique circumstances” - which was believed to be a reference to talks between Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and an as yet unnamed investor which could see the Saudi Arabian relinquish control four years after winning a High Court battle with former owner Kevin McCabe. However, the fact remains that United have failed to meet their financial obligations to a rival - which after being given 48 hours to address the issue, prompted the EFL to publicly announce the step they had taken during the build-up to the clash with City.

Sheffield United acknowledges the announcement of sanctions imposed relating to EFL regulation 52.2.3,” a United spokesperson said. “Club officials remain in constant dialogue with relevant stakeholders, with the aim of working to a resolution next week. The club would like to thank the EFL for its assistance and taking into account a number of unique circumstances.”

“The board of directors would like to assure supporters that promotion to the Premier League remains the primary objective this season and will continue to support Paul Heckingbottom and the team,” it continued.

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Although results on the pitch have helped distract from events off it in recent months, no one who has listened to Heckingbottom detail some of the challenges he has been forced to overcome of late will have been shocked by developments on Thursday night. Before his hopes of acquiring a replacement for the now departed Reda Khadra were dashed - or, best case scenario, placed on ice - the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief acknowledged any new arrival would have to fit within the same “favourable” framework United negotiated with the German’s employers Brighton and Hove Albion. Heckingbottom has also revealed his squad are still unable to train on the new surface laid at the Randox Health Academy, due to a series of delays to the project.