, 63 tweets, 29 min read Read on Twitter
Today’s proceedings are due to get underway from 10.30am. I’ll be Tweeting updates from Prince Abdullah’s evidence throughout the day.
Before things get underway today, here’s what we know so far about the High Court dispute between co-owners, Kevin McCabe & Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who each own 50 per cent of Sheffield United..
#twitterblades #sufc
SUL, a company controlled by Mr McCabe and his family, has alleged ‘conspiracy’ and ‘unfairly prejudicial conduct’ and wants damages.
#twitterblades #sufc
UTB LLC, a company controlled by Prince Abdullah, wants declarations in respect of its rights under an investment and shareholders' agreement.
#twitterblades #sufc
Both Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah own equal shares in the club but they have clashed over the terms of a buyout provision in the initial agreement drawn up by both parties in 2013.
#twitterblades #sufc
Former club chairman, Mr McCabe, 71, met the Saudi prince in 2013 when he was looking for an investor in the Blades after investing £100 million, of his own cash over 12 years.
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah invested £10m in 2013 but in 2017 the relationship between the co-owners faltered, with Mr McCabe said to have been frustrated the prince did not have the funds he claimed to.
#twitterblades #sufc
The hearing has also previously heard that Prince Abdullah used a £3million loan from the ‘Bin Laden’ family. The prince has claimed that Mr McCabe, and his associates, knew where the loan had come from following a meeting in Dubai in 2017
#twitterblades #sufc
This has been denied by Mr McCabe, who claims the money was a bribe given to Prince Abdullah by other businessmen.
#twitterblades #sufc
In court now. Both parties are taking their places, and things should get underway in around 15 minutes. Mr Justice Fancourt is presiding over the case with Andreas Gledhill QC representing Prince Abdullah and Paul Downes QC representing Mr McCabe.
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah has now been sworn in. Mr Downes has begun by asking the Saudi prince whether he is a sports fan.
“I am,” replied Prince Abdullah
#twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes has referred to an article written about Prince Abdullah in 2012 in which it was suggested that fantasy football combined his two passions of ‘NFL and outsmarting people’.
“Do you like outsmarting people,” asked Mr Downes.
Prince Abdullah replied: “No.”
Mr Downes tells Prince Abdullah: “In December an offer was made by Mr McCabe for you to buy him out, and it was confidential.” He asks the prince why, if it was confidential, did he discuss it with a third party. The prince said: “I don’t know, I made a mistake.”
Mr Downes asks Prince Abdullah whether it had always been a dream of his to buy a UK football team.
He replied: “It started being an NFL team...but my focus shifted and my number one passion is now Premier League and English football.”
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah is asked whether he also considered buying Leeds United, as well as Sheffield United. He initially replied by saying: ‘I looked at many clubs,’ before conceding that he ‘looked at’ Leeds United around a year before he bought #SUFC
Moving on to Prince Abdullah’s finances now. Mr Downes asked him where the £10million he invested in Sheffield United in 2013 came from. He told the court the money he invested was his own cash.
#twitterblades #sufc
“When you met Mr McCabe it must have been clear that he was under the impression you had very considerable wealth,” said Mr Downes. Prince Abdullah commented that the definition of considerable wealth is relative. He added: “He knew that money was important to me.”
Mr Downes tells the Prince that getting #SUFC back into the Premier League was among his ambitions when he invested, and asks: “What were your expectations of how long this would take?”
“Five years,” replied Prince Abdullah.
Mr Downes: “Do you agree that in an agreement like this you can’t expect everything to be recorded in writing?”
“Yes,” replied Prince Abdullah.
Mr Downes: “This agreement requires a certain amount of understanding between both parties to make it work.”
“Yes,” said the Prince.
Mr Downes added: “This agreement can’t work if the two sides are at war.”
Prince Abdullah replied: “No partnership works if the two sides are at war.”
#twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes asks Prince Abdullah if he understood that if the money ran out, there was ‘no obligation on either side to put more money in’.
Prince Abdullah said he believed that even though both parties may be financially stretched, they would fund the club ‘50/50’. #twitterblades
Prince Abdullah is asked if he knew Mr McCabe would ‘pass the baton on to him’.
He replied: “One of the reasons I bought the club was because it was 50/50.”
#twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes: “It was important to you that Mr McCabe had expertise in owning a football club in Sheffield, England.”
Prince Abdullah replied: “You can easily spend money in football, so having a strong local partner who could veto or tell you when something is massively wrong...
...or can warn you or tell you, that was important to me.”
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah is being asked how he thought the first year of his and Mr McCabe’s partnership had gone.
“Everything was very good,” he said Prince Abdullah.
#twitterblades #sufc
In 2014, around a year after Prince Abdullah invested in #SUFC, he took up a position with the Saudi Arabian government; and resigned from his positions as director and co-chairman of Blades and SUFC.
Mr Downes is being asked about Mr McCabe’s hands-on involvement with the day-to-day management of #SUFC
“I didn’t think it was an issue at that time,” said Prince Abdullah.
Mr Downes: “Do you accept that Mr McCabe was concerned that your money was spent well?”
Prince Abdullah says that with the benefit of hindsight he thinks the money could have been spent ‘more wisely’
“We ended up with a huge roster, of 35 players, I think,” he said #twitterblades
Prince Abdullah is still being asked about his first year as co-owner of the club.
Mr Downes: “It was clear that as a manager he [Mr McCabe] was very involved with the running of the club. As an owner, I meant, I’m so sorry.”
Prince Abdullah joked: “He acts as a manager!” #sufc
Mr Downes: “By the end of the 2014/15 season, all of your money had been spent, you must have been disappointed [with the club’s performance].”
Prince Abdullah replied: “We beat a lot of Premier League clubs [in the FA cup] and had a better roster than the one I inherited.” #sufc
On the subject of what kind of owner Mr McCabe is. Prince Abdullah has been asked about this several times, working on the prince’s assertion that there are two types of owner; the 1st being one who is happy to take a back seat & the 2nd being someone who is more ‘hands-on’ #sufc
“Are you now prepared to agree that at this stage (2014/15), Mr McCabe is the second type of owner (more hands-on),” asked Mr Downes.
Prince Abdullah replied: “He’s the second type, but as a 50/50 owner.” For context, the Prince said earlier on that this approach should only...
..be adopted if you are the sole owner of a club.
Prince Abdullah added: “He’s a self-made man, he’s smart. He should have asked the question: ‘Why hasn’t the club done well over the last eight years’. Saying ‘football is a funny business’ can’t be the answer to everything.”
And that’s lunch. Court will resume again at 2pm.
Can’t deny that I’m a little glad to have a bit of a screen break after that marathon Tweeting session.
Earlier on this morning, Prince Abdullah was asked what his net worth was when he bought a 50 per cent share in #SUFC
I couldn’t quite make out his response in court, but his team have just confirmed it was ‘in the region of $200million’.
Back in now. Prince Abdullah is being asked about his expectations when he entered into the partnership with Mr McCabe. Mr Downes has referred to what he said about it being important to him to have a ‘strong, local partner’. #twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes has put it to him that it’s ‘probable’ he would have told Mr McCabe what his expectations were.
“It’s possible,” said Prince Abdullah.
Mr Downes replied: “Can I suggest it’s probable.”
“I’m more comfortable with [the word] possible,” added the prince. #twitterblades
Prince Abdullah is once again being asked about Mr McCabe’s day-to-day involvement with #SUFC
“In the first two years [of your partnership] you knew full well Mr McCabe was involving himself in technical matters,” Mr Downes asked the prince.
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah replied: “As a partner, he can, of course, throw himself, or his people in.”
#twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes asked Prince Abdullah: “It’s a more recent idea to attack Mr Kevin McCabe’s management style, isn’t it?”
Prince Abdullah disagreed with this assertion. #twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes is referring to earlier evidence from Jeremy Tutton, the chief financial officer of Mr McCabe’s Scarborough Group, in which he claimed Prince Abdullah had been playing the ‘race card’. #twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes has said that at the beginning of the partnership between Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah, the Prince said he wanted to ‘learn from him and now three years in, you want to fundamentally change things’.
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah replied: “He was trying to interfere with technical decisions, and not allowing managers to do their work. It’s not good for the club.”
#twitterblades #sufc
When asked for an example of when Mr McCabe interfered with a technical decision, Prince Abdullah referred to the decision to re-sign Ched Evans in 2017 (after his rape conviction was quashed following a re-trial) #twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah said that he believed Mr McCabe had made an ‘emotional decision‘ to re-hire Ched Evans for £1million after ‘three years of not playing’.
“He talked the coach into it,” said Prince Abdullah.
Mr Downes replied: “So he talked him into it, he didn’t impose his will”
Mr Downes is now talking about the breakdown of Mr McCabe and Prince Abdullah’s relationship.
“After 3 years, you turned against him,” said Mr Downes.
Prince Abdullah replied: “His style of management, after 3 years, it’s more than enough to see the facts for what they are.”
Mr Downes has just asked Prince Abdullah how many matches he attended at Bramall Lane in his first three years as a part-owner. The prince said he had attended two, but added that he watched ‘all the matches on tv, spoke to the coach spoke to the people’.
#twitterblades #sufc
“To raise the £4million [shortfall] for the 2015/16 season, you said you had to ‘cut into flesh’. Where did the money come from,” asked Mr Downes.
Prince Abdullah replied: “The Saudi paper shares.”
#twitterblades #sufc
They are now discussing another financial shortfall of £8million that #SUFC had in the following season (2016/17)
Specifically, they are now referring to £1million Prince Abdullah said he could raise within 30 days by August 15, 2017.
Mr Downes said that in email correspondence sent in July 2017, the prince seemed confident he could raise the money, but said something had changed by August
“This is quite embarrassing for you, personally. You said ‘I’ll pay a million,’ the latest you say it will be paid is August, and you can’t raise it,” said Mr Downes.
#twitterblades #sufc
“Sometimes you run into financial difficulties,” said Prince Abdullah.
When asked where he was expecting to get the money from, the Prince replied: “I can’t remember.”
Mr Downes said: “You must remember where you were getting the money from...
...if you don’t want to say [where you were hoping to get the money from] in open court you can write it down on a piece of paper,” said Mr Downes.
#twitterblades #sufc
"You remember this period of time, you remember you were struggling to find the money - but you have no recollection of where you managed to find the money," said Mr Downes.
Prince Abdullah told the court he would check with his office.
#twitterblades #sufc
Responding to Mr Downes' suggestion that he must have some recollection of where he sourced the money, Prince Abdullah responded: "I know I'm not selling drugs, haven't taken bribes or done anything illegal."
#Twitterblades #sufc
Mr Justice Fancourt asked Mr Downes to move on, and that the subject could be revisited tomorrow morning once Prince Abdullah has had the opportunity to check what he needs to with his office.
#twitterblades #sufc
Under questioning about a different sum of several hundred thousand pounds that Prince Abdullah was struggling to raise, he said: "This was one of worst times for me, financially. I'm sure I was able to eat and pay for my children's school but it was bad." #twitterblades #sufc
Mr Downes told the Prince: "You couldn't have come up with the money from your own resources, which means the McCabes had to come up with more money, which risked you becoming more diluted; or no money coming from your side would result in the club becoming insolvent." #sufc
Prince Abdullah told the court he 'wouldn't have allowed it to come to that'.
Mr Downes asked Prince Abdullah whether he considered selling his LA house and his wife's jewellery to raise £500k when #sufc were on the 'brink of insolvency' in 2016 #twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah said he hadn't considered selling his house in LA or his wife's jewellery to raise the cash, but had considered selling some of his private equity investments.
"By the end of 2016, you were £1million adrift from the McCabes," said Mr Downes
#twitterblades #sufc
Prince Abdullah has been asked about his dealings with investor Dr Rakan Al Harthy. The prince said he has dealt with him both through a privatisation committee he was on in Saudi Arabia, and had also spoken to him about a buyer he believed he had found to buy out the McCabes.
That's it for today. Court will start at 10.30 tomorrow, when Prince Abdullah will continue his evidence. I'll post a court report summarising today's key points later today!
#twitterblades #sufc
Here's my round-up of today's evidence. Thanks for all of your kind words, and I'll be back at court from 10.30am tomorrow.
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