Sheffield United held their Virtual Fans Forum last night, with Prince Abdullah and Stephen Bettis heading up the off-field team to answer questions from Blades supporters.
With the pandemic still rife around the world, the Blades ownership team took the chance to host the forum online, inviting questions from supporters. The event marked 12 months since Prince Abdullah gained sole-ownership of the club from Kevin McCabe.
Plenty of topics were on the table. Stadium questions, sponsorship details, loss of money from the pandemic, and investment in the first-team, were all points of discussion.
So, with a lot of areas covered, what can us – as Blades fans – take away from the forum?
First off…we are in good hands
There were plenty of people who were sceptical when Prince Abdullah took over sole control last year. Kevin McCabe had been a mainstay of the club and fans, rightly, had reservations. However, if the forum is anything to go by, coupled with the last 12 months of spending, we should be fine.
Prince Abdullah confirmed during the chat that he had given a ‘personal guarantee’ when he took over the club and once again reiterated his ‘actions speak louder than words’ statement.
Despite the pandemic – of which the Prince admitted had impacted the club to the tune of around £20m – he has still invested in the club and backed Chris Wilder this summer.
Plans in place to expand the stadium
It’s been a topic of discussion for a while among supporters but Prince Abdullah and Stephen Bettis allayed any fears of Bramall Lane staying as it is.
Bettis confirmed there are no issues with the land ownership near the Kop and the John Street Stand and confirmed planning permission is already in place taking into that account that exact issue.
However, those plans are on hold for the immediate future. But, should we continue to remain a PL club for the forseeable future, we should see an improvement to the facilities at The Lane.
Stephen Bettis also updated on the first-team training ground building, admitting that it had been delayed but he expects work to be completed early next year, helping the team to ‘get that extra 1-2%’.
The board considers supporters in any of its decisions
This was a standout comment for me in the forum. Stephen Bettis moved to confirm the club would not take any money off supporters for season tickets while there was uncertainty around fans returning.
Certain clubs haven’t done this. It shows the club puts fans first and has supporters at the forefront of its decision making, even at boardroom level. If anything, it shows that things are being listened to that the powers be at Bramall Lane.
This, coupled with comments on plans to re-open the hotel and further improve all facilities around the ground, demonstrate a good connection between club and fans.
Debt free, yet ambitious
Prince Abdullah confirmed that a further two-year stay in the Premier League will ensure the club is fully debt-free and sustainable.
This does not mean our owner isn’t showing ambition and does not want us to improve. The Prince spoke of his plans to push us on to an established top ten club and, eventually, into Europe. When you think back four years ago, that sort of talk would have unthinkable.
Our transfer windows since being in the PL also show that the Prince will back Chris Wilder when needed.
Chris Wilder is going nowhere
The subject of the Blades boss was brought up and, as expected, it appears Wilder has a position as secure as it can possibly be at Bramall Lane.
Prince Abduallah spoke of Wilder as being United’s Alex Ferguson and it’s a comment that plenty of Blades fans can probably resonate with. Obviously, it was mentioned that should we lose 15-20 games then the board would need to make an informed decision. Likewise, if an international chance came up for Wilder.
Put simply, the Blades boss isn’t going to be going anywhere for a while barring a miracle.