Why two English Football League clubs are desperate for Sheffield United to finish season on a high

The financial toll failing to complete the season would take on clubs has again been laid bare after it emerged one of Sheffield United centre-forward Oli McBurnie’s former clubs face missing out on a crucial payment if the 2019/20 campaign is abandoned due to the coronavirus crisis.

Saturday, 28th March 2020, 10:33 am
Updated Sunday, 29th March 2020, 2:21 pm

Bradford City, the team McBurnie represented before joining Swansea City in 2015, are entitled to receive a 15 per cent slice of the £2.87m United agreed to pay the Welsh side if they avoided relegation this term.

Seventh in the Premier League table when the fixture calendar was suspended earlier this month due to the worsening health situation across the country, Chris Wilder’s side had effectively assured themselves of another 12 months in the top-flight long before reaching the 40 point mark widely viewed as a guarantee of survival five weeks ago.

But if the schedule is abandoned - as some figures within the game believe it might be - United would not be compelled to pay Swansea for at least another year. Indeed, depending upon how the new season then unfolded, officials at the Liberty Stadium could face missing out on that money altogether.

Although that would be a huge disappointment for them, it would be an even more painful blow for Bradford, where The Telegraph and Argus newspaper report owner Stefan Rupp is likely to have factored it into his planning.

According to them: “The McBurnie money has been a huge assistance... as City attempt to repair the damage from the reckless rule” of a previous regime.

Bradford are known to have pocketed around £2.5m when McBurnie, aged 23, completed his near £20m move to Bramall Lane last summer. The Scotland international has scored four times in 29 appearances since, producing some of his best displays for United following the Christmas period.

Assessing McBurnie’s performance against Manchester City in January, Wilder said: "I thought he was outstanding. If any Sheffield United fan had any criticism of that boy, then they want to give their head a shake, really. He is still a young kid who is giving it a right go.”

Oliver McBurnie of Sheffield United celebrates after he scores his sides first goal during the Premier League match between Sheffield United and West Ham United at Bramall Lane: Michael Regan/Getty Images
Chris Wilder, the manager of Sheffield United: George Wood/Getty Images