Sheffield United publish their latest set of accounts

Sheffield United reported a loss of just over £21m during the financial year covering their promotion to the Premier League, the club’s latest set of accounts reveal.
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Documents filed with Companies House, which say that figure demonstrates the “exceptional costs” required to deliver that success, also reveal the board of directors estimate it will cost around £43.5m to purchase property interests, including the Steelphalt Academy training complex and Bramall Lane itself from a company controlled by Kevin McCabe.

The High Court judge, who declared HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mus’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud as United’s new owner in September, ruled that transaction must be completed by July 1. Earlier this week it emerged the value of those sites will now be decided by an independent arbitrator after an agreement, reached “in principle” between the Saudi Arabian and his former co-owner two months ago, had broken down.

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The costs associated with acquiring these holdings would appear to explain why the amount United owe to creditors has also climbed almost 10 fold, while staff costs have also increased.

The figures, which cover a 12 month period leading up to 30 June 2019, state United also experienced a slight increase in turnover during their climb out of the Championship under manager Chris Wilder, although there was also a rise in administration expenses of £1.4m.

Explaining the significant rise in losses - £21.3m compared to £1.9m the year before - the report, overseen by auditors Grant Thornton, says the climb is “predominantly due to increased investment in football contracts and bonuses payable due to the success of this investment.”

Under a section entitled ‘Going Concern’ in the strategic review, Prince Abdullah and his fellow directors state: “Although the company has a deficit of assets over liabilities of £25m...the promotion of Sheffield United to the Premier League has brought a significant increase in media and other income.”

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“The directors have reviewed the forecasts for the period to 28 February 2021, which include investment in the playing squad and property acquisitions, which demonstrate the company can operate within its planned facilities including, if required, support from its controlling parties, for the period.”

Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.
Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

Several ‘soft loans’ - those with favourable and lenient terms - were also received from members of United’s hierarchy. Those serving as directors during the last financial year included Joseph Giansiracusa and Jan van Winckel, together with McCabe and Prince Abdullah.

“The directors have not disclosed in the financial statement any identified material uncertainties that might cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue to adopt the going concern basis of accounting for a period of at least 12 months from the date when the financial statements are authorised for issue,” Grant Thornton concluded.

The accompanying strategic review, presented to United’s shareholders and investors, also outlined the importance of the club’s youth system to its future growth and plans to improve facilities inside their ground.

"Improvement to the academy programmes and elite professional facilities will facilitate home grown development," it noted. "And form part of the overall football strategy."