Sheffield United's contract situation placed under the microscope by new research

Tomorrow night’s match between Sheffield United and Reading at the Select Car Leasing Stadium brings together two squads at opposite ends of the Championship’s ‘stability’ spectrum, a new research paper has revealed.
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Ranked second and 15th in the table respectively, the report by the CIES Football Observatory underlines the link between sensible planning over the medium and long term and league position, with leaders Burnley identified as the competition’s least disrupted team. Luton Town, Norwich City and fellow high-flyers Blackburn Rovers also feature among the clubs who have used the fewest players over the past five years according to the CIES’ study. Rovers beat United 1-0 on Saturday, reigniting their own push for automatic promotion in the process.

The report, published on the Swiss based institute’s website, reveals why United manager Paul Heckingbottom is keen to begin addressing one of the most important administrative issues looming on the horizon at Bramall Lane, where 14 members of his side could leave at the end of the present campaign when either their contracts or loans expire. Although some senior figures behind the scenes have attempted to make light of the matter, stressing that some of those are subject to 12 month options, the transfer embargo United were recently placed under by the English Football League effectively prevents coaching staff from negotiating fresh agreements with those they want to keep.

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The situation has been exacerbated by Dozy Mmobuosi’s on-going attempt to purchase United from their current owner Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. The Nigerian businessman, whose exact wealth remains a mystery, claims he has provided all the evidence required to pass the checks the EFL demand before sanctioning a buyout of one of its members. However, noises emanating from the governing body’s headquarters suggest they are still scrutinising the paperwork which has been submitted, with talks between Mmobuosi and Prince Abdullah ongoing.

United, who are four points clear of third placed Middlesbrough, have selected 80 different players since 2018 according to the CIES, compared to Reading’s total of 103. Over the course of the past year, they have deployed a total of 37 and 41 respectively.