Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom receives assurances over United World's influence on recruitment

Paul Heckingbottom will remain the sole arbiter of who joins Sheffield United’s first team squad whilst the current ownership structure remains in place, one of HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s most trusted associated has insisted, as Henry Mauriss’ proposed takeover of the club rumbles on.

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 1:47 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 2:17 pm

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Abdullah Alghamdi also sought to change perceptions about how the United World network, which also oversees the Saudi Arabian royal’s other footballing interests, works in terms of recruitment following claims it has too much influence over affairs at Bramall Lane.

Heckingbottom’s attempts to refresh his options during the transfer window are taking place against a backdrop of uncertainty at boardroom level, with Mauriss’ £115m bid yet to receive the go-ahead from the English Football League.

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Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom will decide who joins the club this summer: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

With the new season set to begin next month, United have yet to unveil any new signings despite trimming their options following last term's defeat in the Championship play-off semi-finals.

Although at least one of Heckingbottom’s most recent predecessors privately expressed concerns that UW had diluted his control over recruitment whilst still in post, with another harbouring reservations about what he perceived to be its unwieldy structure, Alghamdi claimed United’s associations with Beerschot, Chateauroux, Al-Hilal United and Kerala United should prove a help rather than a hindrance.

Mauriss’ offer does not extend to the other parts of Prince Abdullah’s sporting portfolio meaning, if it does receive the green light, United would be removed from the UW structure.

H.R.H Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) owns a variety of clubs, including Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“The manager decides what he wants and then the recruitment team gives him options,” Alghamdi, UW’s chief executive, said. “We have a central recruitment team that coordinates between the clubs.

“But it is the manager, Hecky, who decides who he wants and doesn’t want. He says where he wants to bring someone in and then it’s the job of others to present him with the possibilities. Then he might, let’s say, choose one or ask them to go back and maybe look again at someone else.”

Heckingbottom has identified “six or seven” vacancies which need filling before United return to action in order for them to remain competitive in the upper echelons of the division. With his team beginning a series of fitness and conditioning tests this week, the 44-year-old will be keen for at least one to arrive before United depart for a warm weather training camp and friendly in Portugal early next month. Particularly as Slavisa Jokanovic, the man he replaced in November, felt United’s failure to refresh their playing staff until the end of last summer’s market contributed to their poor start to the campaign.

United World chief executive Abdullah Alghamdi

Dismissing suggestions that UW was responsible for those delays, Alghamdi nevertheless explained that scouts within its network are ready to help Heckingbottom gather information on prospective targets if they are based overseas. In such instances, their findings would then be passed on to United’s own recruitment experts for them to consider before a final decision is made.

“If Sheffield United want, say, a player in France then our French team will help them. Everyone participates. It is happening.”