Alan Biggs At Large: Take two as Sheffield United do the splits

Sheffield United: Blades news, reports and more.
Sheffield United: Blades news, reports and more.

Who wants to buy up the football franchise of the biggest club outside the top two divisions?

That seems to be the invitation - and, at face value, a pretty attractive one - from Sheffield United’s move to realign the club’s complex and multi-faceted structure.

This column’s recent musings about Kevin McCabe splitting the club’s operation is nearing a reality with the Blades’ owner informing shareholders this week of steps to “separate the real estate assets from the football club assets” within the group.

McCabe sees this as “likely to be more attractive to prospective new investors”, presumably meaning the football side of the business which is inevitably feeling the pinch right now.

It also comes across as an admission that United are unlikely to find a partner or outright buyer to refloat the whole club considering that it is founded on considerable loans from the McCabe family representing the vast bulk of liabilities.

A football-only enterprise would seem the more affordable and realistic route to lifting the core business, providing the sale terms offer enough incentive. It’s tricky to put a valuation on a team - minus ground assets and other property - except in potential terms given an injection of cash.

But at least it stands to safeguard United from being exploited by the more undesirable type of club owner who is in it for purely commercial reasons. Only football enthusiasts with a business brain and understanding of the game need apply.

I still have a hunch about potential interest from ex-Hull City chief Adam Pearson, a friendly associate of McCabe’s. Meanwhile, thoughts and sympathies are with the Bramall Lane staff - reportedly more than a third - who face losing their jobs in another round of cost-cutting. United can seldom have confronted a more challenging time in their long history.