Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah: Chris Wilder 'tried to quit Blades TWICE' - 'wanted £4m pay off to resign'

Prince Abdullah, the Sheffield United owner, has claimed that Chris Wilder TWICE tried to quit the Blades before he eventually left earlier this month – and wanted a £4million pay-off when he offered his resignation.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 25th March 2021, 9:01 am

In an explosive interview with Sky Sports News, in which the Blades owner also revealed his concerns about Wilder’s recruitment and appeared to suggest his former manager did not take enough responsibility when things began to turn for his side, the Blades owner broke his silence on Wilder’s departure by mutual consent.

Wilder, the iconic manager who led United to two promotions in three years and took his boyhood club from League One to the Premier League, left with the Blades bottom of the Premier League and against a backdrop of a breakdown in relationships with key members of the Prince’s hierarchy.

"In December, Stephen [Bettis, United’s CEO] told me that Chris had talked about resigning. I was really worried and I knew that a phone call or a Zoom call would not do the trick, I had to sit with him," the Prince said.

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"The problem was, because of Covid, all Saudis were banned from leaving the country. I spent two weeks trying to get permission to leave. As soon as I got that, I flew to London and drove to Sheffield and met Chris before the Southampton game.

"I told Chris: ‘If we lose every game until the end of the season, we are not going to fire you. We need you to be our coach. I am not talking about emotion, I just believe you are the best manager to bring us back to the Premier League.’

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"I told him recruitment could be better and that we could sit down after the season and talk about how we could make it better.

Former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder with the club's hierarchy: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"I told him that I am not happy that sometimes after defeats when he talks to the media [and says]: 'I can't make cake out of sand' and when he says: ‘All I have is Championship players'.

"It does not reflect well on the club image. Those players finished ninth in the table last season, it hurts the club financially.

"I am okay with Chris taking all the credit when we win but at least take some responsibility when we lose. Don't, under the pressure of some losses, say: ‘Everything around me is rubbish'."

The Prince added that Wilder explained in a one-hour call why he wanted to resign, feeling his belegured team needed, in the Prince’s words, “a change, a new voice”.

"We were very clear and said we don't want to fire you but if you want to resign, you can, but we will not pay you the same money as if we were firing you,” the Prince added.

"The emails started between his representatives and our financial guy and we were astonished to find he had asked for £4m to resign.

"We said: ‘No way are we going to pay you £4million. You are resigning, we are not firing you, why would we have to pay almost one year's salary?'"

Wilder has not publicly commented on his United exit since it was announced, and declined the invitation to respond to Prince Abdullah’s claims.