Prince Abdullah told Bin Laden family member Sheffield United Academy 'could be moved out of city' and replaced with houses

Sheffield United co-owner, Prince Abdullah, ‘tried his best’ to persuade the Bin Laden family to invest in the club and even offered to move its football academy out of the city, a court heard.

By Sarah Marshall
Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 6:21 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th June 2019, 7:14 pm
Kevin McCabe & HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
Kevin McCabe & HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Kevin McCabe and Saudi royal, Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, each own 50 per cent of newly-promoted United, and are embroiled in a bitter legal battle over the terms of a buyout provision drawn up by both parties in 2013.

Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah are also in dispute over a £3million loan given to the club by the Bin Laden family in 2017. 

Kevin McCabe & HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

During his second day of evidence at the High Court yesterday, Prince Abdullah said he met with Saleh Bin Laden at his home in December 2016 to try and persuade him to invest in United. 

“What do you remember of that meeting,” asked Paul Downes QC, representing Mr McCabe.

Prince Abdullah replied: “I told him this is a very good opportunity, if I didn't think so I would have sold him some of my shares.

“I told him about English football, about Sheffield, about the property of the club. I told him about the Sheffield United Football Academy. I said the academy could be moved out of Sheffield and the land could be used for housing and property. I was trying my best to convince him."

When asked about the terms of the repayment, as discussed by Prince Abdullah, Mr McCabe and his son,Scott McCabe in a meeting held in Dubai in July 2017, the Prince said: “I told them [the McCabes] you will probably never have to repay this loan, they will probably become partners or Saleh [Bin Laden] will bring a sponsorship deal to repay the loan."

Prince Abdullah has said that another option would have been for the loan to be repaid through the conversion of the money into United shares. 

But Mr Downes told the court that neither Kevin or Scott McCabe mentioned the share option during their evidence, and said the prince’s barrister, Andreas Gledhill QC, had also omitted to ask them about it.

He suggested Prince Abdullah ‘had come up with it’ during his evidence yesterday. 

Mr Downes also suggested the Prince has ‘concealed as much as possible’ from the legal disclosure process in a bid to keep conversations and meetings he had with Dr Rakan Al Harthy - who arranged the meeting with Saleh Bin Laden - out of the litigation. 

The Saudi prince revealed to the court that he was considering buying Charlton Athletic FC at around the same time he bought Sheffield United, and said he has also looked at buying Leeds United and West Ham United. 

The case continues on Friday.