Having a bigger training facility and becoming a category one academy has been the aim of Sheffield United for quite a while and after plans of purchasing the Norton Aerodrome collapsed, those hopes were shattered. However, the Blades CEO Stephen Bettis has hinted that the club is eyeing a new location where they will look to move the first team to.
Bettis spoke to SUTV on the clubs plans:
“I don’t want to sound like a broken record but we’ve had a couple of sites we’ve been in discussions with the local authorities. It’s difficult to find somewhere firstly in the areas we’re looking at that actually would be suitable for a new training ground and we haven’t got enough space where we are.
“We want a cat one academy and training facilities for our womens team and training facilities for the first team. At Shirecliffe at the moment we could turn that into training facilities for the women and cat one and move the first team elsewhere and that seems to be the logical solution but it’s finding the site.
“We’ve had numerous sites that we’ve been talking to the local authority about and we’ve got quite far down the line and they’ve not happened. We’ve got a site we are really far down the line with, we’ve agreed a price to buy the land from the local authority but there’s still some hurdles we need to get over first.”
This is a period where Sheffield United is moving in the right direction on many fronts. The recent marquee acquisitions on long-term contracts, whilst also lowering the squads age, makes the football club a more attractive proposition to businessmen. And setting out plans of a new first-team facility, which would also push United’s famed youth academy to category one, certainly wouldn’t hinder the interest of any potential buyers.
However, as of now, the prospect of a financial takeover is nowhere near being completed, as Bettis said in his interview.
“It’s not moving quickly. There’s a few interested parties still at the moment and due diligence has been done and continues to be done on them. Discussions are ongoing around their intentions for the club and how they’re going to move it forward and what their aspirations are.
“Until all of those things are satisfied and both parties are happy nothing changes.”
The board has been recently criticised for their “lack of” due diligence that they did on American businessman Henry Mauriss and Nigerian businessman Dozy Mmobousi.
Fans have voiced their concern because if it wasn’t for the EFL’s intervention, the Blades could’ve been owned by Mr Mauriss or Mr Mmobousi, and neither of them have the financial capabilities to own and sustainably run Sheffield United Football Club.
Bettis commented on the two failed takeover attempts:
“They didn’t buy the football club either of those two parties because at the end of the day they didn’t get there for reasons that are confidential. We’re improving our diligence we do on prospective owners and we’re learning from it as well to make sure we find the right person going forward. That’s something that hopefully will happen in the future.”