Former Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe told to stay away from Bramall Lane

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Ex-Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe told to stay away from Bramall Lane if he fights ownership ruling in favour of Prince Abdullah

  • Kevin McCabe was told to stay away from Bramall Lane if he fights a court ruling
  • Tony Currie is set to remove himself from the Sheffield United board this week
  • The Blades legend is considered one of the finest to have ever played for them
  • He is reportedly devastated at the High Court’s verdict on ownership on Monday 

Former Sheffield United chairman Kevin McCabe has been told he will not be welcome at Bramall Lane if he fights the High Court ruling which awards full control of the club to his co-owner Prince Abdullah.

McCabe, who has been on the board for more than 25 years, with many served as chairman, was left devastated by the judgement handed down yesterday.

Others with the Blades close to their hearts were also shaken, including legend Tony Currie, who was in tears as he confirmed he would step down from the board with immediate effect and voiced his fears about the new leadership.

Kevin McCabe (left) has been told by the High Court that he must sell his 50 per cent share in Sheffield United to fellow co-owner Prince Abdullah (pictured with McCabe back in 2013)

Kevin McCabe (left) has been told by the High Court that he must sell his 50 per cent share in Sheffield United to fellow co-owner Prince Abdullah (pictured with McCabe back in 2013)

‘It is a sad day,’ said Currie. ‘Over the past 25 years Kevin McCabe has transformed the club. We are in the Premier League with a brilliant manager and an academy that is producing players for England and one of the best stadiums in the country.

‘All of that is down to Kevin. I’m sad for him and sad for myself and I’m sad for the Sheffield United supporters.’

Most important for fans will be whether manager Chris Wilder can forge a working relationship with a Saudi royal who has attended only a handful of matches in six years.

Sheffield United legend Tony Currie (right) is set to decide to step down from the club's board

Sheffield United legend Tony Currie (right) is set to decide to step down from the club’s board

Wilder was appointed by McCabe at a time when he was poised to leave Northampton for Charlton.

He has since led them from League One to the Premier League and has stayed despite lucrative offers to leave from Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich.

Wilder and McCabe last spoke before Saturday’s home defeat by Southampton, with the manager still in his running kit having jogged through the streets from his home in the Fulwood area of the city.

Prince Abdullah, who will pay £5million for the club, insists he will not be selling it on for a quick profit. He is believed to be considering his son-in-law as chairman.

‘My first priority is to secure our position in the top tier for many years to come,’ said the Prince in a statement released on Monday which hailed a ‘new dawn’.

Prince Abdullah is a businessman with experience at the helm of a club — he owns Beerschot in the Belgian second tier — and keen to internationalise the Blades by recruiting more overseas players and a technical director.

His decision to invite Belgian coach Jan van Winckel, an assistant to Marcelo Bielsa at Marseille, on to the Blades board in December 2017 was not well received by the coaching staff and was a key factor in the bitter split with McCabe. 

‘It will be catastrophic if we lose Chris Wilder because of this takeover,’ said Currie, the former England midfielder.

Other concerns for the future will revolve around Prince Abdullah’s wealth. He acquired half of the club for £1 with an agreement to invest £10m but when he needed to find more cash to invest in 2017 he borrowed it from the Bin Laden family.

Sheffield United operated at a loss of £10m in the Championship but income will be greatly boosted by their return to the Premier League this season.

Abdullah, who will pay £5million for the club, insists he will not be selling it on for a quick profit

Abdullah, who will pay £5million for the club, insists he will not be selling it on for a quick profit

The court also dismissed allegations of bribery against Prince Abdullah and ruled he must buy properties from McCabe which include Bramall Lane, the training ground, a hotel and offices — thought to be worth in excess of £50m. This is on top of the £5m he must pay McCabe for the club.

How such a purchase will be funded remains to be seen. ‘One initiative already underway is the unification of the club and its key properties,’ said Prince Abdullah. ‘We want to own our stadium and intend to complete this integration within the coming year.

‘We are only the custodians of these traditions for the time being. No owner, director, coach or player is bigger than the club but together with the fans we all share a common desire to make the club even greater.’

He promised to open lines of communication with supporters while McCabe, who estimates he has invested £100m in the club, made his concerns clear in a statement released after the verdict.

A spokesman for the McCabe family said: ‘Kevin feels a deep sense of betrayal and is in a state of shock about the way that he has been treated by Prince Abdullah. He now deeply regrets going into business with him.’

McCabe will consider his rights to appeal.

PRINCE ABDULLAH STATEMENT 

This morning, the High Court issued its judgment requiring Sheffield United Limited (SUL) to sell its shares of Blades Leisure Limited to me and dismissing all of the claims which SUL had made against me and my lawyer, Mr Yusuf Giansiracusa. I am delighted that this judgment brings an end to the uncertainty over Sheffield United’s future. Our manager Chris Wilder and the team are off to a promising start and we can now focus on this vital Premier League season under stable ownership.

When I first became involved with Sheffield United in 2013, I said that the Premier League should be our target, even though we were in League 1. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together over the past six years. As we turn a new page at Bramall Lane, my first priority is to secure our position in the top tier for many years to come. To help realise that ambition, I am fully committed to continued investment in both the First Team and the Academy and to bringing best practices and the highest standards of management to the club.

I also look forward to hearing from the fans, club staff and other stake holders regarding ways in which we can improve the match day experience and support the community that has so loyally supported us. One initiative already underway is the unification of the club and its key properties. We want to own our stadium and intend to complete this integration within the coming year.

Finally, as this new day dawns at Bramall Lane, it is only proper that we reflect on the great traditions of the club. We must never forget that we are only the custodians of these traditions for the time being. No owner, director, coach or player is bigger than the club but together with the fans, we all share the common desire to make the club ever greater. I’m humbled to be a part of this enterprise and to join with you in our common endeavour. UTB!

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