Sheffield United takeover: former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley rumoured to be interested in buying Blades - Alan Biggs

Sheffield United’s hierarchy appears to be facing a stick or twist summer - at a time when English football clubs are in global demand.

By Alan Biggs
Thursday, 21st April 2022, 12:32 pm

Can Prince Abdullah’s regime afford to kick the club on, regardless of a possible return to the Premier League? Can they attract an investor or buyer if they can’t?

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So far there has been no indication of a “yes“ to either question. And naturally the outcome of the all-important promotion bid would have a major bearing on the club’s valuation, not to mention the board’s future intentions.

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Mike Ashley during his time in charge of Newcastle United (photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images).

But in recent days I’ve been hearing suggestions of gathering interest in the club, even rumours that a takeover could be close.

Caution applies. Nothing is certain, let alone confirmed, but it would be no surprise if Bramall Lane is a magnet for a buy-out.

You can practically guarantee a level of curiosity at the very least.

One source I trust suggests strong interest from America. Another that former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who is on the look-out for another club after a reported flirtation with Derby, is watching closely.

There will always be speculation and it is a compliment to Sheffield United’s tradition and current standing if wealthy individuals consider it ripe for the picking.

It has a stadium that is both historic and modern with a committed fan base of up to 30,000. The current playing squad has a lot of quality and experience, without representing an unmanageable burden in wages.

At the same time, the club seems to be at a crossroads. While the board’s declared long-term plan of promoting youth from the academy is laudable, I find it unrealistic in the short term.

It is rare to funnel through enough ready-made talent at one time; it is a gradual process which can only succeed alongside investment in the team.

If United are still in the Championship next season, it is an expensive undertaking to begin improving, and ultimately replacing, such a high-achieving squad. Another promotion bid next season would seem highly unlikely to me otherwise.

And if they are back in the Premier League then the only way to prevent a repeat of what happened last time is to recruit some players of proven top calibre.

The big question concerns Prince Abdullah’s intentions from this point, whether he wants to have another go and can afford it, or whether he feels this is the moment to cash in or embrace partners.

If he decides on the latter then my soundings suggest he will find no shortage of takers.

So it is not only on the field that a plot crucial to the future of the club may be about to unfold.