Sheffield United: Blades could receive Scottish boost

Livingston striker Marc McNulty (left) interests Sheffield United.
Livingston striker Marc McNulty (left) interests Sheffield United.

Livingston could be forced to sell Sheffield United target Marc McNulty this summer to help balance the books at Almondvale Stadium, writes James Shield.

The Scottish Championship club, who recently took the unusual step of allowing McNulty to train with Nigel Clough’s squad during the SPFL season, are investigating the possibility of becoming a community owned entity after reporting losses of £365,909 in their latest set of accounts.

Clough, the United manager, confirmed his interest in McNulty after placing a new centre-forward at the top of Bramall Lane’s shopping-list during the forthcoming transfer window with at least one centre-forward likely to arrive before the start of the 2014/15 campaign.

McNulty, whose former team mate Stefan Scougall has flourished since joining United four months ago, is among several possibilities being monitored by the 48-year-old and pressed his claims for a move south by scoring for the 19th time in 39 outings when Raith Rovers visited West Lothian on Saturday.

“Seeing how well Stefan has done makes you more confident that, so long as the player is good enough and has the right character, then they can make the transition,” Clough acknowledged after McNulty’s presence at the Redtooth Academy was first confirmed by The Star. “There are a number of people we’re looking at.”

Although Livingston will be loathe to part with another of their prized assets, claims that budgets need to be trimmed will fuel speculation that McNulty is destined to follow Scougall through the exit door.

Aged 21, he progressed through the ranks at Celtic and Hibernian before making his senior debut against Montrose in 2009.

Clough, who monitored McNulty’s situation during a previous spell in charge of Derby County, concedes United must bolster their attacking options after averaging only 1.04 goals per game last term despite finishing seventh in the table.

The likes of Crawley Town’s Billy Clarke and Connor Sammon, signed by Clough at the iPro Stadium, have all previously been linked with moves to United while Billy Sharp could also emerge as a potential candidate.

Clough admitted before last weekend’s victory over Coventry City that he was “aware” of Sharp’s situation at Southampton.

Livingston’s financial situation - they are believed to have debts of around £1.75m - have prompted Paul Goodwin, of Supporters Direct Scotland, to suggest the club needs “a radical change of course.”

“The current board at Livingston has invested heavily to save the club following its most recent difficulties and they have to be applauded for doing so,” Goodwin said. “We are delighted that they have asked us to help them build a long-term solution with the wider community at its heart.”

“We are pleased to confirm that the club has asked SDS to look into and advise on how Livingston FC can become a fully-owned community club where all the interested parties in West Lothian, including the council, can play a significant role in building a sustainable community asset,” Goodwin added. “We firmly believe that a solid business plan developed with all interested parties through a Community Interest Company can offer the best scope to build the club for future.”

United, meanwhile, have unveiled their latest intake of academy scholars. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, defenders Graham Kelly and Emmanuel Adebowale, midfielder trio Danny Ramsey, O’Shaye Giraud Hutchinson and Shea Gordon together with forward Jorome Slew have all been handed two year agreements.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1