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Men's Football High Court hands control of the Blades to Saudi royal

Saudi ‘princes are predominantly the enemies of human rights,’ European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights director tells the Star

A PRINCE from Saudi Arabia’s human rights abusing royal family won a high court battle for control over Sheffield United yesterday. 

Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the grandson of the Western-backed founder of Saudi Arabia’s brutal regime Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, had until yesterday been locked in a legal dispute with former co-owner Kevin McCabe over control of the club. 

Through his firm UTB LLC, Mr Abdullah took Mr McCabe’s company Sheffield United Ltd to court in a bid to enforce a sale agreement reached in 2017. 

Ruling in favour of Mr Abdullah, Mr Justice Fancourt said Mr McCabe must sell his share of the Premier League club to the prince for £5 million.

In a 138-page judgment, delivered in London yesterday, the judge said the club was now worth “in the region of £100m.”

In a statement after the ruling, Mr Abdullah said: “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.”

He added: “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.”

The judge also said UTB will have to buy the club’s property assets, which include the Bramall Lane stadium and the Sheffield United hotel, from Sheffield United Ltd.

He dismissed Mr McCabe’s claims against the prince for breach of contract and conspiracy to cause harm to Sheffield United Ltd.

The director of European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights Ali Adubisi told the Star that the princes in Saudi Arabia were often above the law.

“The princes in Saudi Arabia receive lavishly free money from the state treasury, which is the right of the people. 

“They have many opportunities for illicit wealth and their corruption has not changed since Mohammed bin Salman became crown prince. 

“In Saudi Arabia it is not possible to investigate how the wealth of the princes has accumulated. The judiciary is corrupt and controlled by the ruling family.

“The princes are predominantly the enemies of human rights. 

“There has never been a prince that has advocated for human rights in Saudi Arabia.”

A statement issued on Mr McCabe’s behalf said he was “bitterly disappointed” and was considering an appeal.

The judge said Mr McCabe was introduced to Mr Abdullah in 2012 by a third party who “misrepresented” the prince’s wealth.

They reached an agreement to split control of the club, then in League One and in need of investment, on a 50-50 basis in return for the prince investing £10m over two years.

But, after relations soured following disagreements over funding, Mr McCabe offered to either buy Mr Abdullah’s stake — or to sell his to the prince — for £5m.

The sale was not completed, however, prompting Mr Abdullah to bring legal action against Mr McCabe to enforce the contract of sale.

In return, Mr McCabe sued in a bid to have the contract declared void or set aside and also sought damages for breach of contract and “a conspiracy … to harm Sheffield United Ltd by unlawful means.”

The judge said Mr McCabe, who is in his seventies, was born in Sheffield and has been a Blades fan all his life.

He added: “Over many years, he has injected tens of millions of pounds into the club out of love and loyalty, not for financial return.”

In a statement issued after the ruling, a spokesman for Mr McCabe said: “He has supported Sheffield United through thick and thin going back to the 1950s and wishes nothing more than success for the club, its supporters and the many staff employed by it.

“The McCabe family have invested more than £100m into the football club over the years, and the judge’s warm tribute to Kevin McCabe’s generosity in this regard was extremely welcome.

“Kevin McCabe has been the longest-serving director and/or owner of Sheffield United in the history of the club.

“For the McCabe family to have lost their connection with the football club in this manner and by way of this judgment is simply heartbreaking.”

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