Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the new co-owner of Sheffield United, turned down the chance to invest in three Championship clubs, according to The Times. The Saudi industrialist, who bought a 50 per cent stake in United from Kevin McCabe, the club’s former outright owner, said he looked at investing in Leeds United, Charlton Athletic and Derby County.
Leeds is understandable as it has real Premiership potential, but needs more investment. Derby County is in a reasonably prosperous area of the Midlands (engineering remains strong in the area) and has a good catchment area with no other major clubs in the vicinity (I discount Burton Albion). It is also near the national football headquarters.
But what about Charlton? It's located in a world city and its catchment area is likely to increase in population. The stadium can cope with the Premier League and there is a good training ground.
It has been suggested, but not corroborated, that the club was holding out for £43m from a recent credible investor. One also has to remember that any investor would acquire quite considerable debt which is likely to increase further in the course of the present season. League rules would prevent any short-term splashing of cash.
The Prince was certainly concerned about debt levels, stating in today's Sunday Times that 'I didn't want to go into a club with huge debt levels because that would be detrimental to achieving my goals.' It would also be difficult (and foolish) to compete with Sheffield United's offer of half the club for just £1.
Prince Abdullah saw the Blades lose 3-1 at Rotherham on Saturday, so he is also acquiring a familiarity with the challenges ahead and the scenic landscape of industrial South Yorkshire. Hopefully, he will stay in the nearby Peak District when he comes to see matches.
If the club is not being offered at a realistic price, and it has to be emphasised that these claims are not verifiable, then one would have to ask why not. As one fan remarked to me, 'It doesn't add up.' I don't have an answer and perhaps we shall all be pleasantly surprised by an announcement of new investment.