The Telegraph reported today that a group from Silicon Valley have discussed a possible deal with United following their promotion back to the top flight. Prince Abdullah has made no secret of his wish to sell the Blades, despite regaining their seat at English football’s top table, but is keen for any deal not to drag on after two previous protracted takeover sagas wielded, as yet, no results.
The group of private investors wish to remain anonymous for as long as they can but a technical advisor based in England has reportedly been appointed to smooth over any potential negotiations.
Promotion to the Premier League is worth as much as £170m to the club, according to renowned financial company Deloitte, and if a deal is struck then United could become the latest top-flight club under American ownership, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all controlled by groups Stateside.
The Star reported yesterday that a number of parties have expressed an interest in taking over United, with negotiations with Dozy Mmobuosi failing to reach a conclusion as of yet. The Nigerian businessman was granted a period of exclusivity to complete his takeover of the Blades after agreeing a deal with Prince Abdullah but has so far been unable to get a deal over the line, leaving Prince Abdullah recently to concede that a Mmobuosi takeover was “unlikely”.
That would lead to bigger issues, considering Mmobuosi has invested a significant sum into United’s parent company United World as a sign of his commitment to taking over. Mmobuosi has refused to call time on his bid to buy the Blades but Prince Abdullah was free to explore other interest once the period of exclusivity expired earlier this year, with the club now a much more valuable proposition in the Premier League.
Mmobuosi is thought to have agreed a price of £115m with Prince Abdullah, which would have risen to around £150m if the Blades were promoted to the Premier League. The Prince gained sole control of the club during United’s last tenure in the top-flight, following a bitter High Court battle with former co-owner Kevin McCabe.
United only recently exited a transfer embargo that had prevented them from adding to their squad in January, allowing them to revisit their interest in Zach Giggs, the son of former Manchester United legend Ryan who was pictured signing for the Blades earlier this week.
The Blades have also failed to make a number of payments to suppliers in recent months, with CEO Stephen Bettis admitting in an interview with local media that the approach had been taken to ensure every pound and penny in the football club was diverted towards the first-team’s promotion attempts.
Promotion has relieved United’s financial woes somewhat but boss Paul Heckingbottom will still be handed only a modest budget this season to strengthen his Premier League squad, with a focus to be placed on free transfers and loans ahead of the new campaign.