Sheffield United news and Championship round-up: Blades owners' stance on 'for sale' talk, Chris Wilder to make first Middlesbrough signing, Reading slapped with points deduction
We may still be in the international break but it’s still been a fairly busy day of news involving Sheffield United and around the Championship.
There has been talk that United could be up for sale, former and current players have been involved in international duty and a bit of clarity came out of a rumour of a potential exit for one very popular Blade.
Here’s a round-up of the days headlines.
Sheffield United up for sale? This is the owners’ stance…
Prince Abdullah is not actively looking to sell Sheffield United, The Star understands, despite media reports that United World, the Blades’ parent company, are “open to offers” for their multi-club empire.
Although any offers that matched his valuation would likely be considered, the Prince is understood to be instead searching for partners and investors to strengthen United’s financial position.
No World Cup dream for Sander Berge
Sheffield United midfielder Sander Berge’s hopes of playing at the World Cup next year are over, after Norway missed out on second spot in their qualifying group with defeat to the Netherlands last night.
Berge, who was forced to watch on as a spectator as he continues his comeback from a hamstring injury that has kept him out of action for the Blades in recent weeks, saw his countrymen fall to a 2-0 defeat to Holland, with Steven Berwijn and Memphis Depay scoring late goals.
Ex-Blade Robert Page is still in the hunt for Qatar trip with Wales
Robert Page, the former Sheffield United defender, steered Wales into the World Cup play-offs after holding Belgium in Cardiff – and then roared: “We don’t fear anyone.”
Wales finished second in their qualifying group and secured home advantage in the March semi-finals by holding the world's top-ranked side to a 1-1 draw in Cardiff on Tuesday, with United defender Rhys Norrington-Davies an unused substitute.
Reflecting on the night everything changed for Paul Coutts
It is exactly four years to the day since Marvin Sordell of Burton Albion lazily hung his leg in the Pirelli Stadium air, making shattering contact with the leg of Paul Coutts and changing the course of Sheffield United’s season – and arguably of Coutts’ career.
It was November 17, 2017 and the Blades were flying, attacking the Championship in their first season back after promotion from League One and going top of the table with a 3-1 win in Staffordshire. But as Blades fans filtered out of the away end, an uneasy quiet filled the air. The result had been celebrated, to a point, but it was overshadowed by something far bigger.
Around the Championship – news round-up
Reading hit with points deduction
Reading have agreed a six point deduction with the EFL, with a further six points suspended until the end of the 2022/23 Season after admitting to breaches of the EFL’s Profitability and Sustainability rules.
A statement from the EFL read: “It follows a review of the financial submission from the Club for the four-year period 2017/18 to 2020/21 where it was determined the Club had recorded a loss of £57.8m, £18.8m in excess of the £39.0m Upper Loss Threshold.”
The drop will take the Royals down to 19th in the table.
Barnsley reveal new boss – and he’s no mug
Barnsley have confirmed the appointment of a new manager – former IFK Göteborg coach Poya Asbaghi.
Asbaghi, who made his name in Sweden, will take charge from Monday, leaving poor old caretaker boss Jo Laumann too look after the team to take on second-placed, free-scoring Fulham on Saturday.
Chris Wilder to make first Middlesbrough signing
Middlesbrough are to bring in Neil Taylor as Chris Wilder’s first signing, according to BBC Sport. The 32-year-old left back will provide cover for Boro after having a trial period with the club. Taylor has been without a club since leaving Aston Villa at the end of last season.
Millwall up for Wilder challenge
Gary Rowett has admitted that it’s not ideal that he takes his Millwall team to the Riverside for what will be Chris Wilder’s first match in charge.
“He did brilliantly to keep Sheffield United up [in the Premier League], it was a really under-rated achievement,” he said.
“Sometimes you don’t want a change just before you play them at home because you know they are going to be up for it, their fans are going to be up for it, sensing an opportunity to kick-start their promotion push.”
Stoke City boss’ shock at players who wanted out
Stoke boss Michael O’Neill said he was taken aback by the changes that had to be made at the club when he took over, revealing that a huge number wanted to get out quickly so they ‘didn’t have blood on their hands.’
He said: "We had a pretty disillusioned group of players that had been put together in quite a short space of time by three different managers - Paul Lambert for six months in the Premier League, then Gary Rowett and Nathan Jones coming in.
"I was surprised when I came to the club of the number of players that wanted to get out of the club and the situation we were in, so they didn't have blood on their hands. That gave me quite a stark insight into what was needed."