Sheffield United Takeover: Dozy Mmobousi’s name attached to huge online push by ‘paid-for influencers’
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The businessman’s proposed takeover of the Blades is still being scrutinised by the English Football League, who released a statement last month revealing a number of questions posed to both Mmobuosi and United had not been answered.
Mmobuosi, who was unmasked as the man behind the bid for the Blades earlier this year, subsequently underwent a series of interviews, telling Rio Ferdinand’s YouTube channel that he had complied with every request from the EFL and was prepared for more scrutiny.
Until February 19, most mentions of Mmobuosi’s name on Twitter were links to articles about his proposed Blades takeover, his media appearances or investigations into CCJs, his company being struck off the Companies House register and legal action, in the UK and USA, over unpaid debts.
Then, from February 20, a flurry of positive tweets began to appear; at least 120, across a period of a few days, at first highlighting Mmobuosi’s foundation and charity work. Later that week tweets began to mention United – although one mentioned Mmobuosi trying to take over Sheffield Wednesday – and images of Mmobuosi with boxer Anthony Joshua and at Manchester United, along with screenshots to stories on the BBC and Star websites, were repeatedly used by different accounts.
The majority of those accounts made clear on their profiles that they were available for paid promotional posts. When contacted by The Star last week, some of the accounts that had tweeted positively about Mmobuosi insisted they were not paid for and instead contained their own personal views. But one account, based in Nigeria, offered to post one tweet for $30, or a week’s worth for $100. A month-long campaign cost $500.
Another Nigerian-based account offered tweets for $10 each, as long as they did not contradict their tweet about Mmobuosi. Two different accounts insisting their Mmobuosi messages were personal views did so using very similar rebuttals, replying: “As a Nigerian I'm happy to see my fellow countryman doing a great work” and “as a Nigerian I'm just happy to see my countryman doing a great work.”
Mmobuosi, via an article in The Guardian, this week denied any link to the tweets.
Around the same time as the flurry of Twitter messages, moderators of a popular Blades fan forum also became suspicious of a number of attempted new sign-ups to the messageboard from the same IP address – a unique number which can help identify or locate a computer or device using the internet.
Mmobuosi is said to be relaxed about the EFL scrutiny but United remain in a state of ownership limbo and still under an embargo, imposed by the authorities after non-payment of transfer debt for players.
Mmobuosi is understood to have provided a substantial cash injection into United ahead of taking charge, while The Guardian has reported he is staying in London and has communicated with current owner Prince Abdullah over the deal in recent days.
Mmobuosi and a representative of his company, Tingo Inc., has been contacted for comment.