Saudi prince wins legal battle to control Sheffield United

Southampton's Cedric Soares, left, and Sheffield United's John Lundstram battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, England, Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (Tim Goode/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) A Saudi prince has won a London court battle for full control of Premier League club Sheffield United.

Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and co-owner Kevin McCabe were locked in a legal dispute over ownership of the northern English team after their business partnership broke down.

The prince, through his firm UTB LLC, took McCabe's company Sheffield United Ltd. to court in a bid to enforce a sale agreement reached in December 2017.

Judge Timothy Fancourt said McCabe must sell his 50-percent share of the club to the prince for 5 million pounds ($6 million).

In a 138-page judgment, delivered in London on Monday, the judge said the club is now worth "in the region" of 100 million pounds ($124 million).

In a statement after the ruling, Prince Abdullah said he is "fully committed to continued investment in both the first team and the academy and to bringing best practices and the highest standards of management to the club."

UTB will have to buy the club's property assets, which include the Bramall Lane stadium and the Sheffield United hotel, from Sheffield United Ltd.

The judge says McCabe was introduced to Prince Abdullah in 2012 by a third party who "misrepresented" the prince's wealth.

They reached an agreement to split control of the club, then in the third tier and in need of investment, on a 50-50 basis in return for the prince investing 10 million pounds over two years.

After relations soured following disagreements over funding, McCabe offered to either buy Prince Abdullah's stake or to sell his to the prince for 5 million pounds.

The sale was not completed however, prompting Prince Abdullah to bring legal action against McCabe to enforce the contract of sale.

In return, McCabe sued in a bid to have the contract declared void or set aside and also sought damages for breach of contract and "a conspiracy ... to harm Sheffield United Ltd by unlawful means."

The team has opened the Premier League season by collecting five points from five games to sit 15th in the 20-team standings.

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Updated September 16, 2019