Sheffield United Takeover: EFL checks would-be new owners need to pass to avoid Dozy Mmobuosi debacle repeat

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Sheffield United in state of limbo this summer as takeover talk rumbles on

The English Football League will request to see detailed financial plans from the prospective new owners of Sheffield United before sanctioning any deal this summer. The Blades are being eyed by an American-based consortium, in a deal that would see current owner Prince Abdullah relinquish at least most of his current control of the club.

The Prince has been actively seeking to sell United for some time, enlisting the help of global firm Lazard in a bid to avoid repeats of the fiascos involving previous takeover attempts by American Henry Mauriss and Nigerian Dozy Mmobuosi. United’s relegation back to the Championship has seen the asking price lowered, with optimism from inside Bramall Lane that a deal can be completed.

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The prospective new owners have already made their mark by influencing the decision to withdraw the option in Ben Osborn’s contract, after boss Chris Wilder made public his desire to keep the utility man at Bramall Lane. The U-turn came much to the surprise of Osborn’s camp but the Blades’ retained list recently confirmed that they remain “in discussions” with the player, with Derby and Watford also linked.

For any deal to be rubber-stamped, the EFL will have to be satisfied that the prospective new ownership has the funds required to fund the Blades - and the process of determining just that will only be more complicated if the would-be new owner is a consortium of buyers. They will be asked to provide a detailed business plan, including transfer spending, and documentation to prove that they can afford to sustain it.

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The prospective owners must also prove where their money has come from, and that it was obtained via legitimate means. Mmobuosi made a big fuss of his attempt to buy the Blades, meeting well-known supporters in Sheffield in a bid to curry favour, but was unable to satisfy the EFL that he had the means to follow through and has since been charged by the SEC in the United States with fraud, which he denies.

There is also the intriguing proposition that Prince Abdullah could remain on board at Bramall Lane with a minority stake. Although such a proposal has not been publicly confirmed, The Star understands that the Saudi businessman has previously been keen to retain some sort of interest in the Blades should a sale occur, to aid the continuity process as new owners get to grips with life at Bramall Lane.

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Predicting a timescale for the EFL’s due diligence is impossible, as each case varies. Some takeovers can fly through the EFL checks if they have all the required documentation and are a single investor, simplifying the process; some, including the Mmobuosi debacle, can drag and drag if the would-be new owners fail to provide the requested information.

In the meantime United are in a state of limbo, ahead of the opening of the summer transfer window this Friday. Boss Wilder has so far focused his search on the free agent and loan market until the expected departures of some of the club’s high-profile players after relegation. Like every other Blades fan, he will be crossing his fingers that the resources at his disposal will be increased one way or another.

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