Talks still on-going between Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah about property purchase

A deal to transfer Sheffield United’s property interests from a company controlled by Kevin McCabe to the club’s new owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mus’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is still being brokered, The Star understands.

Wednesday, 25th March 2020, 7:11 pm

A statement issued on behalf of Scarborough International Properties Limited (SIPL), which outlines McCabe’s plans to continue investing in the region despite losing a long-running power struggle at Bramall Lane, confirmed negotiations are still on-going following the collapse of an agreement “in principle” earlier this month.

The document, circulated to interested parties by SIPL’s PR advisors, claims this happened when Prince Abdullah “withdrew his offer”. With a High Court judge ruling the assets, which include the Steelphalt Academy training complex and United’s home stadium itself, must be purchased by the Saudi Arabian before July 1, it remains unclear if this was an arbitrary decision or one taken in response to a demand by Sheffield United Limited (SUL); the vehicle McCabe uses to hold his shares in United.

“Agreement in principle was reached in January for Sheffield United FC (under the ownership of HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz al Saud) to acquire from Scarborough the freehold of the Bramall Lane Stadium together with its interests in the four star Copthorne Hotel and the Enterprise Centre along with the 20 acre Academy and First Team Training Centre at Shirecliffe as well as the Junior Development Centre at Crookes and other properties,” the statement reports.

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Bramall Lane is the home of Sheffield United: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

“Although it was expected that formal contracts - the detailed contents of which had been settled - would have been exchanged with completion to occur prior to 31 March this year and thereafter extended to the end of April, until Prince Abdullah withdrew his offer earlier this month.

“However, both Scarborough and Sheffield United FC (under the ownership of Prince Abdullah) have to comply with the terms of the High Court judgement whereby the five properties will now have the individual prices determined by Arbitration with thereafter completion of the transaction taking place on or before the 1 July 2020, in line with the timetable set by the High Court.”

Intriguingly, SIPL’s spokesperson also confirms its plans to press ahead with developing the Boundary Corner; a site located within United’s ground. This suggests it has been ring-fenced during talks with Prince Abdullah, and is not required to be handed over by SIPL later this summer.

“Alongside Sheffield United’s historic Bramall Lane Stadium, Scarborough continues its blueprint for redeveloping, upgrading or extending its owned properties shortly looking to submit for planning approval a mixed-use project at Chaucer Yard fronting John Street and Countess Road,” the statement confirms. “Its two other properties at Boundary Corner (located at the junction of Shoreham Street/Cherry Street) and Cutlers Corner (positioned at John Street /Shoreham Street) already have planning consents in place for the development of modern apartments and ground floor retail space. Discussions are ongoing with Sheffield City Council to increase the density of both these sites.”

HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud © BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

The communication also reveals McCabe is continuing to develop the Olympic Legacy Park site, which is the home of Sheffield Eagles and, until recently, Sheffield United Women. They are now based at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium, after moving grounds following Prince Abdullah’s takeover.

“At Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, Scarborough will begin work to transform the existing sporting facility to create a top-class community stadium providing a permanent home for Sheffield Eagles Rugby League and possibly Sheffield United Women’s Football,” it said. “In addition to changing room accommodation and sporting support space the principal stand will incorporate office and conference suites plus retail and leisure units. The Stadium is available for use by the adjoining UTC and Oasis Academy as well as local community groups and football clubs.”

“Scarborough plans to follow that with the start of construction within the next 6-9 months on a business incubator/enterprise centre building, providing flexible and managed workspace for organisations in the health and wellbeing sectors,” it added. “It is also working with stakeholders at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park to explore a number of opportunities for additional development for larger corporate occupiers in the sector.

“Scarborough is also intending this year to present its masterplan for a much larger area of the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, ready to deliver a diverse offering of space to the market as the project gathers momentum.”