Sheffield United: Prince Abdullah speaks out amidst rumours of Blades leaving historic Bramall Lane home
HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the new sole owner of Sheffield United, has attempted to allay fears that he will move the Blades away from Bramall Lane after describing the club’s historic home as ‘the most prestigious stadium in the world’.
The Saudi Prince learned he had emerged victorious from a bitter battle in the High Court earlier this month, before United took on Chelsea and returned from Stamford Bridge with a creditable 2-2 draw.
The judgement was not made public, however, until it was announced by Mr Justice Fancourt in court 11 of the Rolls Building in Central London, just after 10.15am on Monday.
Kevin McCabe, the Prince’s former business partner, described the verdict as heartbreaking and later suggested he had the energy to launch an appeal; the Prince said he was “delighted that this judgement brings to an end the uncertainty over Sheffield United's future.”
Later, in his first interview since the verdict, the Prince hailed the strength of his relationship with manager Chris Wilder, refuted suggestions he was set to quickly offload the club to a new buyer and also appeared to quash any fears that the club may leave Bramall Lane.
“Bramall Lane is Bramall Lane,” he said. “To me it’s the most prestigious stadium in the world and we only want to make it better, make the experience better from every angle.
“It will take a lot of work but the experience could be much better, in terms of facilities. Little things like the boxes can be better, the store can be much better.
“As a club, United deserves better facilities and management than it had before.”
Bramall Lane is the oldest stadium in the world still holding professional football matches, and is one of only two to have hosted both an FA Cup final and an Ashes Test match. The first floodlit game of football also took place at the ground.
Prince Abdullah hailed Wilder as a ‘great coach’ who ‘will only get better’, and clarified the role of Jan van Winckel – whose appointment to the technical board of United was blocked by Wilder, and whose presence at Bramall Lane was one bone of contention between the Prince and McCabe.
“When I analyse what makes a club successful, no-one is bigger than the club. The owner, coach and players all work for the club,” the Prince said.
“We’re blessed to have Chris and will support him. Hopefully he will lead us to bigger and better things.”
Van Winckel, from Belgium, has previously worked with Marcelo Bielsa at Marseille and is currently involved with Beerschot, the Belgian club Prince Abdullah co-owns.
“He’s one of the best people I know and has a good eye for talent,” the Prince added, on Van Winckel.
“He told me to buy Yaya Toure for Al-Hilal for $800,000 when he was in Belgium, before he went to Barcelona and Manchester City. We will use him in the club, but Chris is the face of the club and his decisions on the first team are the decisions we’ll go with.
“He [van Winckel] is busy with Beerschot and I can’t think he can spend a lot of time in Sheffield, but he’ll be involved.”