Sheffield United spark final battle of long-running ownership feud

Sheffield United spark final battle of long-running feud between Prince Abdullah and Kevin McCabe as club issue legal threat to long-serving chairman over minor copyright issue

  • Prince Abdullah seized control of Sheffield United from Kevin McCabe  
  • Pair have long-running feud and and final battle is over copyright infringement
  • Legal letter was sent to McCabe about club crest on a sign for his company 

Sheffield United sparked the final skirmish of the club’s bitter power struggle this week by issuing a legal threat about a minor copyright infringement.

Blades chief executive Stephen Bettis signed a letter on Monday ordering a crest to be removed from fencing around an empty plot of land near Bramall Lane. The following day, a lone workman set out from Manchester with pots of paint to obliterate the offending image.

It is the latest clash in the long-running ownership dispute which has seen Prince Abdullah seize control of the club from long-serving chairman Kevin McCabe.

Kevin McCabe (left) and Prince Abdullah, pictured in 2013, were in a bitter power struggle

The Saudi prince won a High Court case last year to acquire McCabe’s 50 per cent stake in the club, newly promoted to the top flight, for just £5million.

As part of the ruling, he must also pay the market value for a package of properties, including the stadium and the training ground, from McCabe by July.

At the request of the prince, the two parties met in London in January and agreed a settlement which would avoid arbitration.

Prince Abdullah won a High Court case in September to take full ownership of Sheffield United

There was to be a downpayment by the end of March but the Prince has since withdrawn from the deal, meaning the two sides are once again locked on a course for another court date.

Statements were released on Wednesday by both McCabe’s company Scarborough International and the club.

Sheffield United accused its former chairman of trying to force the club out of Bramall Lane, its home since 1889, by increasing the price based on the residential value of the site.

The club sent a letter to former chairman McCabe over using the club crest  

Earlier in the week they had sent the legal letter to McCabe about a club crest which appeared on a sign for his company, Sheffield United Ltd, the former parent company and at one time sole owners of the Blades.

It had been displayed for months on the hoardings around a vacant plot of land near the ground known as Boundary Corner and has now been painted out.

The plot is one of two owned by McCabe which are inside the Bramall Lane site and earmarked for residential development and are not part of the package which Prince Abdullah is obliged to buy as part of the High Court ruling.

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Women’s World Cup final is more than just cricket: Roberts

Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts says the women's World Cup final on Sunday is about more than just a cricket match, with a boost in prizemoney strengthening the push for gender equality.

The blockbuster final will be held on International Women's Day, with officials hoping to break the record for a standalone women's sporting event of 90,185 set at the soccer World Cup final in Los Angeles in 1999.

Erin Burns and Delissa Kimmince pose at training on Saturday, their shirts bearing the names of injured teammates Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck.Credit:Getty Images

This year's tournament was deemed a success by all parties, with free-to-air ratings enjoying a considerable leap although attendances – as expected – were down.

Injured superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry has said she looks forward to the day when the WBBL "supports itself" through revenue, including a significant broadcast deal.

Australia captain Meg Lanning said the transformation in the women's game had been dramatic.

"It is incredible how much it has changed, just opportunities to get involved in the game," she said. "As a young girl coming through, to see your heroes on TV, that has probably been the biggest shift – this is your opportunity."

Pop singer Katy Perry will perform before and after Sunday's final and she, no doubt, has added to the interest on the day, but it's the cricket that will be centre stage for the majority of the crowd. A packed MCG will show how far elite women's sport has come over the past decade.

"We feel this is huge for women and girls more broadly," Roberts said. "Cricket takes centre stage but it is actually bigger than a cricket match and bigger than a sporting event. It's what it means for women and girls the world over on the path to gender equality. It's just brilliant that the sport we love can play some sort of role on that path."

CA's commitment to parity has been shown by elevating the prizemoney on offer for the Australians, ensuring the women receive as much as the men.

The International Cricket Council had increased the prizemoney pool at the World Cup by 320 per cent on the 2018 tournament, meaning the winners received $US1 million ($1.5m), with the runners up to take home $US500,000 ($753,300) – but those figures still fall short of what the men receive. As a result, should Australia win, CA will add a further $US600,000 ($904,000) to ensure parity, guaranteeing a healthy pay day for the 15 players who had been a part of the squad.

"Great credit to the ICC for significantly increasing that from the last women's tournament and we are topping that up in the event the Australian team wins. We are closing that gap just as we do by having equal prizemoney in the BBL and the WBBL," Roberts said.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding brokered between the Australian Cricketers' Association and CA in 2017. all Australian players receive the same base pay rate, regardless of gender. Payments for elite female cricketers jumped from $7.5 million over the previous five-year period to $55 million over the current term, expiring in 2023.

The women could be in for a pay rise come the next round of negotiations considering the amount of international cricket they are playing. Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar has raised fears that this is contributing to more injuries.

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