Court hears how Saudi prince could gain control of Sheffield United for £5million if he wins dispute

A Saudi prince could take control of newly promoted Sheffield United for as little as £5million if he wins his legal dispute with club co-owner Kevin McCabe, a court has heard.

A High Court hearing began in London on Monday concerning the row between the Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and club chairman Kevin McCabe over the ownership of the Blades. 

High Court judge Mr Justice Fancourt heard how after the pair started working together six years ago their relationship broke down and that they became involved in a dispute over control.

Paul Downes QC, acting for Mr McCabe, explained how the parties’ relationship started ‘optimistically’ in 2013 but became ‘disfunctional’ and ‘acrimonious’.

Downes outlined how Prince Abdullah had found a loophole in their 2013 agreement, allowing him to buy the club for £5m without avoiding the need to purchase the stadium, training grounds and hotel.

McCabe meanwhile intends to ‘pass on the baton’ after more than 20 years involved at the club and investing around £70m in total. Downes said they had an expectation that the prince was ‘minted’ and had ‘substantial wealth’.

They had originally agreed that Prince Abdullah would invest £10 million. 

But Downes continued that the prince had, on two occasions, failed to provide two payments of £500,000 and £1.5m to keep the club running. 

Mr Justice Fancourt had explained, in a ruling published following a preliminary hearing in June 2018, that by the end of 2017 relations between Prince Abdullah and Mr McCabe had ‘deteriorated’ to the point that Mr McCabe wanted to put an end to a joint venture operation.

The club recently won promotion from the EFL Championship 12 days ago and are preparing for life in the Premier League.

The judge asked whether peace had broken out between the pair in light of the club’s success, to which the answer was no. 

The hearing is scheduled to last five weeks with a judgement expected in July.

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