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Thread: Season Review 18-19 - The Board / Back room

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Season Review 18-19 - The Board / Back room

    Staff report

    Board / Club

    In the last 12 months it seems nothing has really changed sadly. From the court date of June 21st that cited the dispute over the original transfer of ownership (50%) to an attempted resolution at mediation in late September; we still have an impasse. Kevin McCabe and his representatives maintain that the deal was legitimate that in affect saw Sheffield United Ltd (SUL) seemingly own Bramall Lane and the Shirecliffe Academy. Prince HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his UTB ownership of the club refutes how the agreement was brokered and this has led to it going to court. In affect it seems McCabe now does not want to sell up to the Prince (as in transfer his half of the ownership). The Prince somehow seems interested but with certain caveats – does he even want the land or the other assets? It is all a bit of a mess. I am not sure either men are that well positioned to take United forward either alone or together; although the latter has now no possibility of happening you feel.

    McCabe seems to have the best interests at heart but does not have the funds to really make things happen and needs a new investor (like the Prince but who will actually put serious cash in and make a difference) and has gone from wanting to get out a few years ago; to now wanting to hang onto things. McCabe now feels he had made a poor deal getting into bed with HRH. He has been quite critical of him in shareholder meetings and things have gone horribly sour. McCabe admits the deal; has not worked out. Maybe him and his advisors did not do enough due diligence but easy to say in hindsight. Business deals go wrong and it not as if lots of rich businessman were queueing up to invest. The best hope is McCabe gets back majority control and finds investors (whether it be the reported interest from China) to properly take us on and do what we thought the Prince would do.

    The Prince and his advisors say mostly nothing which is odd and worrying. They have not even tried to defend McCabe’s words or criticism. I remain doubtful of his intentions. He has been here for 6 years now and whilst investment has been made; I look at other clubs quite close to home where a foreign owner has put millions in (not worked of course). If the court case rules in his favour and he ends up as the majority owner, I am not sure I see him suddenly becoming interested and being actually present in Sheffield and properly investing in the club for them to take the next step. I have no idea what his intentions are for continuing this quest for control because he does not say. Sadly, I feel it is finance and business driven and that would concern me what he would do with the club if he wrestled control.
    McCabe is at most of the games and seems involved emotionally as well as financially. If the Prince is so bothered about this club why is he never here although we suddenly saw him attend the Forest game (allegedly he was at the Ipswich game too) and start to become active on social media once again. His interests in the Saudi government are now at an end. He seems to tweet more about the Belgian club he is involved in but maybe the money the promised land brings us has piqued his interest. His intentions and what he wants from the involvement in the club still is shrouded in mystery. At least with McCabe we know we have got. He has been quite honest about his intentions if he gets control too but there is a concern about whom he finds to take over as it is clear he feels he made a really poor choice with Prince Abdullah.

    In terms of the backing; somehow, we managed to give Wilder decent chance in the summer and in the loan windows to get for the most part the players he wanted. Of course, if we had stability off the pitch, then maybe the backing could have been greater but none of the other top 6-10 team were throwing stupid money about. Looking at clubs like Birmingham, Bolton, Derby, Villa, Wednesday etc who have had to scale back and some face an uncertain future in terms of ownership or FFP; we are not as badly positioned as others despite the odd state of affairs off the field. That is why despite the dispute, you cannot say Wilder has not had backing. It is not as if he could not spend anything and has brought in loan players on decent wages and was allowed to sign Egan and Norwood for circa 6 million. Yes, others have spent more but when you compare our outlay to the other teams we competed with; Leeds and Norwich, we were not found wanting in this area like we were the season previous when we signed League One players. The loan players impact was positive in the competition they provided and they all did their bit at different stages. Without Dowell, Madine and Hogan we may not have quite made it as they added to the group.

    Now we will have to take it on a step and properly invest if we want to be a success (or even stay in the top flight). I am not going to speculate on funds but even keeping with the core and continuity you would say we will smash our transfer record by some way this summer and have to bring in several players at bigger fees than we have ever spent before.

    We will wait to see what happens in the court hearing in May – my concern reading between the lines is that HRH may enough to force through a verdict to get control from the bits and pieces I have seen and understand. I am sure McCabe then may appeal and on it goes.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    The rest of the board consists of McCabe’s sons Scott McCabe and Simon McCabe are still there but a recent programme only showed Simon as being part of the SUFC board. Both are part of McCabe’s Scarborough Group. I am unsure how involved these are but have seen more of them around than before and at the later games Scott (must admit do get them mixed up) was always there. McCabe may be looking to pass on the baton more with his age.

    Tareq Hawasli is on the board but we have heard little from him. Not sure he is even connected to the Prince. His CV suggests he has industry experience extends from real estate to energy (including oil, natural gas and alternative energy), IT, healthcare and commodities coupled with extensive experience with both conventional and Shariah compliant financial structures.

    Yusuf Giansiracusa is a new-ish face and another on the Prince’s side. He seems more of an advisor than a ‘money man’. Specialising in representing clients and commercial and corporate transactions. Another that seems anonymous and not sure how involved he is, if at all.

    Jeremy Tutton is another part of the Scarborough Group and is very much another financial guy; reading his bio on the company website.

    Jan Van Wincklel has been here a while now but we don’t actually know what he does. Van Winckel, who holds a UEFA Pro License was a technical expert for FIFA and led the Saudi Arabian football team, as chairman of the technical committee, to the World Cup in Russia. He also held several coaching jobs and was for several years the assistant manager to Marcelo Bielsa at Olympique de Marseille in France.

    Not sure this was a McCabe endorsed move at all and all the quotes suggest the Prince wanted him. Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad observed: "Jan is someone whom I have known for a while now. He is an experienced football man and we are delighted to have him as part of the team at board level." Wilder cannot have been that impressed when he had the likes of Paul Mitchell and Carl Shieber involved. We did not hear much from this new guy. He tweeted when United won but never saw him around or in the directors box. I would concede that we do need to spread our horizons in terms of where we invest from and have become a bit too UK centric. It has worked to this point but would not work if we want to push forward.

    Tony Currie’s move to being named on the board seemed more ambassadorial than anything else. He has not got any financial clout and never had any management/coaching/football technical experience. Maybe it was just another ally for McCabe in the power struggle to get more support from the fans and a kind of tit for tat move after Van Wincklel came in.

    Carl Shieber oversees player contract negotiations still I believe and Wilder has alluded to his role being important and is still around I believe.

    Stephen Bettis came back as chief executive and this seemed an underrated move when Wilder remained last summer as seems a big fan of Bettis and seems to be an important go between for the two owners. He has been prominent in some of the end of season interviews etc and seems to be very important part of things moving forward.

    What was clear is there is essentially two sides to the board; the McCabe’s and his men and the Prince and his men.

    Dave McCarthy is involved still as Operations Director and we also have Paul Reeves as the head of marketing. We got a sponsorship deal with Ramsdens but after Teletext we do seem unable to get the bigger profile companies and the finances that would come with it. Now we are in the top flight I expect us to go for even bigger and more lucrative deals but not sure how long the deal was with Ramsdens. Our deal with Adidas is now up and not heard if they are going to continue or if we will have another company. Overall the four years we have had with them has seen for the most part, good kits and also better merchandise/sportswear full stop. There is some decent stuff in the club shop.

    The home kit was mixed this season – it was not as good as the previous seasons’ and had a plain white back and an ugly green sponsor. The away kit was ok but feel we have done that luminous thing to death now and it has never been as good as the original. For me the home shirt needs to be similar thickness in stripes but all over the kit and the sponsor not green. I would like a simple yellow shirt, red shorts away kit or failing that just a plan white kit.

    The partnership has worked and we are one of their best-selling kits outside the big clubs so make sense for them to want to continue so we will wait and see. The only downside is you do get template kits a lot but is still better than some of the poor-quality companies we have had in the past.

    We have had record season ticket sales and expect us to have sell outs every week next year. Talk has even begun on when/if we can extend the ground but we would need to stay up for that to happen for me. If we did remain then they could extend the South Stand or look at rebuilding the Kop but the tricky part would be getting it done in one off season as they would need to completely re-do it. The South Stand could be done probably whilst still being open and not affect capacity as much. That will be the tricky thing of extending if you have 25,000 going or with season tickets as you cannot really reduce capacity.

    It seems Wilder is keen for the training ground to be upgraded. It is odd that we have the main building at Shirecliffe but the team use the rather dilapidated old building in front of the two pitches – sure it is nicer inside and we surely need better facilities with things like hydro chambers etc at this level.

    I have to also make comment on the excellent work the social media team have done. Some of the videos and marketing stuff has been sensational and real tear jerkers at times! They have taken this side of the club seriously and we look a lot more professional than the amateurish set up what he had before.

    As an aside the two groundsmen; Glenn Nortcliffe and Kelly Barrowclough have continued to maintain an excellent pitch. Even with some tricky weather; it looks fine and to see it almost perfect by the season end is testament to why it was important to get the Desso. It is interesting that our city rivals pitch does not look close to the level ours is, late in the season – maybe it is due to sunlight, the fact they are right near the river (drainage) or just we got a better version!

    Grade C = merely as they backed CW more than previous seasons but the off-field turmoil prevents it being higher (Last season E)

    Next season
    There are a lot of good things off the pitch but the deadlock at the top threatens to overshadow everything else. My concern is the court case will not provide a quick resolution and feel their will be counter cases and it would drag and drag. Probably the best outcome would be McCabe winning, remaining chairman and owner but finding real investment that would properly support him – however that is what we thought would happen with the Prince and it did not. If Prince Abdullah gets control, I have concern over his intentions in terms of what he would do the club, how much he would invest and/or if he would sell to someone that could change the whole ethos of the club. It is a big summer in this sense and they need to sort it quick as Wilder needs proper support and backing financially for us to make a real fist of it. If they do not; he will do his best but it is more than just one season, it is the opportunity to potentially do a Bournemouth, Watford or at worse Burnley (up and down a few times then remained). We must not blow this chance.

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