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Sheffield United: Steps were taken to ensure takeover attempts do not overshadow on-the-pitch progress

Chris Wilder signed his new contract earlier this month: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder signed his new contract earlier this month: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder has received assurances that HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s attempt to purchase Sheffield United will not affect the club’s governance.

Wilder, who is preparing to enter the transfer market after committing his future to Bramall Lane, complained about a lack of “clarity” behind the scenes before signing a new contract.

Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abulaziz Al Saud

Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abulaziz Al Saud

Prince Abdullah launched his attempt to buy-out fellow co-owner Kevin McCabe in January. But with discussions about who controls United still on-going, both men have agreed upon a series of measures designed to prevent the situation from becoming a distraction ahead of the forthcoming Championship campaign.

Although neither the Saudi royal nor McCabe has explained exactly what these are, one is likely to focus on establishing better lines of communication between United’s hierarchy and those in charge of footballing affairs. Clearly, given Wilder’s decision to accept their offer of improved terms, the procedures both men put in place convinced the 50-year-old his work can continue without hindrance.

“I spoke to both the owners, I had meetings with both of them,” Wilder confirmed after it was announced he would remain as United manager until 2021. There is still ongoing discussions about the ownership of the football club, but they recognised and put that to one side, that there had to be a couple of tweaks and changes to how we go about things.”

One possible move could be the appointment of an honest broker, with no obvious ties to either Prince Abdullah or McCabe, to act as a conduit between the bootroom and boardroom. An analysis of Blades Leisure Limited’s filing history - United’s parent company - suggests several present or former directors would be suited to performing this role.

In a move which confirms he remains serious about acquiring McCabe’s 50 per cent shareholding in BLL, Prince Abdullah recently dispatched two trusted advisors to Bramall Lane who have since become familiar figures around the stadium.

United announced in February that “His Royal Highness Prince Abdullah Bin Mosa’ad Abdulaziz Al Saud and Kevin McCabe” were “in discussions regarding the transfer of ownership and control and Sheffield United Football Club” to the former.

Prince Abdullah, who served as chairman of Saudi Professional League giants Al-Hilal before arriving at United in 2013, made his offer “in response to a process commenced” by one of McCabe’s companies, the statement continued.

The agreement which paved the way for Prince Abdullah’s original investment includes a “provision...in certain circumstances” requiring whoever takes sole charge to also hold United’s various property interests.

These include the ground’s freehold and leaseholds of sites including their Steelphalt Academy training complex, Enterprise Centre, and junior development centre at Crookes.