Abdullah Alghamdi, the person responsible for running the United World network, has confirmed his fellow Saudi Arabian is searching for backers to help him grow an organisation which also includes interests in Belgium, France, Dubai and India.
The bid to increase UW’s reach comes despite Henry Mauriss’ attempted takeover of United, which would see the Championship club removed from its sphere of influence.
But Alghamdi, who helped broker a new UW wide kit agreement with Italian manufacturer Errea, insisted anyone looking to support the project will be vetted to ensure they do not want to dilute manager Paul Heckingbottom’s control over first team affairs at Bramall Lane.
“We want to bring investors in that we trust,” Alghamdi said. “In football, there are billionaires who want to control. Maybe they will want to do the job of Hecky. We try not to get that involved. For example, the Prince has not always been keen on some recruitments, but he leaves it to the coach.”
The key point
Speaking to The Star earlier this week, Alghamdi stressed the decision of his country’s sovereign wealth fund to purchase Premier League outfit Newcastle has not blocked access for either United or UW into the Middle Eastern kingdom. Indeed Alghamdi, previously a high ranking official on its Olympic committee, sought to challenge some people’s perception of UW as a Saudi led idea: “Thirteen different languages are spoken within the group…we (Saudi Arabians) are in a minority.”
It is significant, with Mauriss’ attempt to purchase United becoming entangled in red tape, that Alghamdi felt comfortable outlining its relationship with UW during Thursday’s launch event near Parma. Although the American’s bid is not dead in the water, senior figures at Bramall Lane clearly feel the time has now come to adopt a ‘business as usual’ approach until the outcome of his discussions with the English Football League is known.
“We try to attract investors from everywhere,” Alghamdi continued. “We have access to Saudi for sure. But we want it from everywhere.”
The other interests
As well as overseeing United, Beerschot, Chateauroux, Al-Hilal United and Kerala United, UW also boasts a relationship with a minor league baseball competition in Detroit, Michigan. Admitting that observing how it operates has taught “us so much”, Alghamdi urged folk not to immediately correlate investment with an influx of new money.
Instead, explaining how their partners in the USA often hand over shares in return for services, he said: “We don’t mean investors who just put money in. We are talking about people who can help us grow in five years and they will be rewarded by a return on their investment when they leave.
“They have equity in the future. If they are coming from any other purpose, then it is not the right investment. And we want the right kind of investment.”