Sheffield United: How the presence of two associates demonstrates co-owner remains determined to complete his takeover
Sheffield United co-owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has placed two advisors at Bramall Lane as his attempt to take sole control of the Championship club continues.
The move confirms the Saudi royal, who served notice of his intention to buy United in January, remains serious about purchasing Kevin McCabe’s stake in their parent company Blades Leisure Limited (BLL).
McCabe and Prince Abdullah held talks about the situation in London earlier this month. Although the discussions saw them reach agreement over both a recruitment budget and manager Chris Wilder’s new contract, progress on who runs United appears to remain slow. Nevertheless, the decision to deploy two trusted associates to their stadium suggests Prince Abdullah is convinced an agreement with McCabe can be reached.
The two men - Saad Al-Lazeez and Abdullah Al Ghandi - are not thought to have been handed permanent positions but are now familiar faces around the ground.
Prince Abdullah, who boasts strong links with Saudi Professional League giants Al-Hilal, launched his bid for United earlier this year. A statement, confirming negotiations with McCabe were taking place, explained it had come “in response” to a process instigated by one of the latter’s companies; Sheffield United Limited.
“On 26th January, 2018 UTB LLC, a company controlled by the Prince, served a notice exercising an option to purchase the remaining 50 per cent of Blades Leisure from Sheffield United Limited,” the announcement read. “Both parties are currently in negotiation with regard to the remaining provisions in the investment agreement and hope to come to a final settlement in the near future.”
With those negotiations still on-going, Prince Abdullah and McCabe last week made good on their promise that Wilder’s status would not be affected by awarding him an extended deal. The 50-year-old, who led United to the brink of the play-offs last term, had earlier complained the situation would have an adverse effect upon his work if allowed to continue.
Prince Abdullah, a former chairman of Al-Hilal, joined United in 2013 after being gifted half of BLL in return for various financial guarantees. His brother, Abdulrahman bin Musa’ad, served as the Saudi giant’s president between 2008 and 2015.
Prince Abdullah is a long-standing advocate of privatising the Saudi Professional League, whose members are presently owned by the Kingdom’s government. Steps are now being taken to implement that plan while Jan Van Winckel, a director of both BLL and Sheffield United Football Club, worked closely with Prince Abdullah during his spell as Saudi Arabia’s president of general sports authority.
The Belgian served as the UAE’s under-23’s head coach and Marcelo Bielsa’s assistant at Marseille before being named technical director of the Saudi Arabian Football Federation in 2015.