by Stanley Azuakola
Carried away by the wealth of the big English football clubs like Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United, football fans aren’t too aware of the struggles faced by many other clubs, especially in the lower leagues. Clubs like Sheffield United.
Sheffield United, which is now in the third tier of English football (Division One), was relegated from the Premier League in 2006 after just one season in the top flight. Since then it’s been a freefall. They have however announced plans to bring in millions of pounds of investment from Nigeria “with the aim of returning the club to the Premier League as soon as possible”.
Club chairman Kevin McCabe revealed that new investment potentially worth multi-millions was on the horizon from Nigerian investors focused on property development. The total amount expected to be injected is in the region of $500m (around £300m), even though far less would be available for running the club itself.
The club which narrowly missed promotion last season, losing to Huddersfield on penalties in the play-off final has lost several key players. Star striker Ched Evans was jailed for rape in April and highly promising right-back Matthew Lowton was sold to Aston Villa in the summer.
McCabe said that with the planned injection of cash, Jacob Esan, a Nigerian investment banker, will become a director of Scarborough United Group (SUG) Plc. and Sheffield United Plc.
However, both companies are and will remain in the control of the McCabe family.
SUG will be the investment vehicle for capital raised through Esan in Nigeria with McCabe also potentially using the arrangement for property development in Nigeria. Money raised through SUG will be available for investment in the football club.
McCabe said: “This is a major conglomerate between the UK and Nigeria. We will get Sheffield United back to the top echelons.”
McCabe was however quick to add that: “This is not an Abramovich-deal – we will still be running the club sensibly – but we will have more resources to be invested in football.”
Esan said his attraction to Scarborough United Group (SUG) which owns Sheffield United, was their international reputation for property development. McCabe and Esan were emphatic that tight regulations would govern money being invested from Nigeria.