Sheffield United: There may be a new blade in town

SHEFFIELD UNITED, who are pushing for a return to the Premier League, could soon be in the hands of a new owner, a move that could help stave off a financial crisis and reposition the club for future growth.

The Bramall Lane regulars thought their club was going to be bought by American investor Henry Mauriss for £ 115 million, but the deal never materialised or got beyond the approval process. The latest interest comes from Nigerian businessman Dozy Mmobuosi, who has tabled a £ 90 million bid for the Blades. 

Sheffield United are currently in second place in the Championship and are well positioned to win a promotion place. They had a taste of the Premier League between 2019-20 and 2020-21 and last season, they finished fifth in the Championship and were knocked out out of the play-offs by Nottingham Forest.

While in the Premier, Sheffield United’s income went up from £ 20.8 million to £ 143 million in 2019-20 and £ 115 million a year later. Their last Championship campaign before promotion saw them pay out 195% of income in wages. With the enormous increase in revenues, United’s wage bill of £ 77.9 million in 2019-20 was a more respectable 54% of earnings.

The club recently admitted that the money earned from their two-year stint in the Premier has now been spent – on wages (£130m), transfer fees (£100m) and club infrastructure (£40m), and that in hindsight, more should have been allocated to the latter. 

In both 2019-20 and 2020-21, Sheffield United made pre-tax profits totalling £ 18.9 million and £ 10.3 million respectively, but cracks have appeared in the club’s finances and they failed to make a transfer instalment payment to another club. It has been reported that the club is Liverpool and it was part of the acquisition of forward Rhian Brewster in October 2020 for £ 23.5 million. It has also been reported that Prince Abdullah, the current owner, had to inject up to £ 20 million into the club and potential new owner, Mmobuosi, has paid an eight-figure sum to ensure two players, Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye, can stay at the club and the club could stave off the threat of administration. Both were set to be sold to ease Sheffield United’s problems. As it stands, there could be an exodus of the club’s best players in the summer if the situation fails to improve. 

The result of the Brewster affair is that Sheffield United have been placed under a transfer embargo, which applies only to the EFL, so if they win promotion, they will be free of the sanction.

Mmobuosi is 43 years of age and owns the telecom company Tingo. He is said to have a net worth of £ 7.6 billion, although the Daily Mail reported that Tingo has seen its market value collapse over the past two years. The EFL is currently examining the takeover but it could be a while before the decision around Mmobuosi’s suitability becomes public – the EFL is spending much more time on its due diligence at the moment.

Sheffield United is a big club by many standards and Sheffield remains the world’s first football city, with two sizeable clubs in United and Wednesday and Sheffield FC, the game’s oldest club. United are certainly not out of place in the Premier League, but in order to sustain football at that level, they need to find ways to grow their financial base in order to become more competitive alongside the top clubs. It’s a challenge, but maybe new ownership will transform the Blades.

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