Rotherham 3 Sheffield United 1 match report: Blades lack royal approval

Sheffield United's Saudi co-owner demands instant improvement after derby defeat

the new york stadium

It was as well this was a day for the bigger picture, because perception, warned Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz al Saud with the genial assurance of the seriously wealthy, can be misleading.

Just because his family is the richest in the world does not mean the new co-owner of Sheffield United, and the first member of Saudi Arabian royalty to invest in English football, has access to the sort of funds which mean the Blades must now be bracketed with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea.

"My money is on public record, I own 50 per cent of Saudi Paper, and Saudi Paper is quoted on the stock market. Go check and add maybe 5 to 10 per cent," said the balding, bespectacled, besuited and apparently benign grandson of King Abdulaziz.

Which, with Saudi Paper Manufacturing currently valued at around £240 million, suggests the new co-owner of the Blades is worth, oh, a trifling £130m or so. Not as much as United supporters might have thought, but enough to indicate the transfer fund he has made available to the South Yorkshire club runs to at least £20m.

At this level, that is still a lot of money. Financial Fair Play may require League One clubs to spend no more than 60 per cent of their turnover on players' wages, but they can spend what they want on transfer fees and signing bonuses. Plenty of scope for a creative accountant to work with there, and as Prince Abdullah's intention is to see United playing the Premier League football that he says he watches obsessively as soon as possible, ideally within five years, it should be enough to see United into the Championship.

Taking the next step will require a lot more money, but that should not be a problem. His Royal Highness made it clear other Saudi investors are expected to come on board, and talks to this effect are already taking place.

Leeds United, Derby County and Charlton Athletic supporters may wince at this point, because it could have been their club receiving an injection of cash. The 47-year-old said that having decided to get involved in English football, his original intention had been to buy – or at least invest in – a Championship club.

The three mentioned were examined, Leeds with particular care, but the deal was "not straightforward" and a chance meeting with the Blades' chairman, Kevin McCabe, led to him buying 50 per cent of Sheffield United's parent company for a pound.

The quid pro quo for acquiring a half-share in a debt-free club – because McCabe said his family have written off the £90m they claim to have pumped into the club over the years – is that the Prince made substantial funds available to bring in new players. Having done so, however, he made clear he expects a return.

"Manchester City and Paris St-Germain are clubs backed by governments. I am sure they have their own goals, which may not be to turn a profit, they are maybe to bring good PR to their countries," he said. "And if they succeed, God bless them.

"But I am an investor, and I will not make any money unless the team gets promoted. I don't get my money from an oil well, everything I have I have to work for."

So while he said he intended to take a back seat while he learns the business of football, the manager, David Weir, needs to be under no illusion as to what is expected.

"I think we have had a horrible start," said Prince Abdullah. "Four points out of five games is not going to get you anywhere.

"The team needs to improve and it needs to improve quickly. Good performances are not going to take you anywhere, you are what your record says you are."

That said, the new co-owner, who said he began life as a Spurs supporter before transferring his allegiance to Manchester United and the San Francisco 49ers, indicated the former Everton and Scotland centre-half has impressed him.

"I spoke to David and I liked him. I've met many coaches, Eric Gerets, Mario Zagallo [both of whom have managed leading Saudi club Al-Hilal, owned by the Royal Family]. I know coaches and I know the sport."

Whether he likes Weir so much after watching this frantic, often ugly derby may be open to question. United took the lead after Jose Baxter – bought from Oldham with some of Prince Abdullah's money at the end of the transfer window – squeezed the ball home from a narrow angle in the first half.

In the second half, however, they were both outplayed and outfought, and Rotherham United, themselves very much a club on the up, first equalised through Kieran Agard's powerful angled drive and then secured the points through Daniel Nardiello's penalty and Rob Milsom's low shot.

The result leaves Sheffield United the worst placed of South Yorkshire's professional clubs, but better times should now be ahead. And they can be reassured about something else too, unlike certain other clubs with a new owner.

"I bought into a big, important piece of history and I'm not going to play with that," said the new man at the top. "We're not going to be called Sheffield 49ers or change the colours to pink."

Rotherham (4-2-3-1): Shearer; Brindley, Morgan (Nardiello, 47), Davis, Skarz; Mills, Frecklington; Agaard, Pringle, Milsom; Revell.

Sheffield United (4-4-2): Howard; McMahon, Maguire, Collins, Hill; Flyn (Bunn, 69), Coady, Doyle, Cuvelier; Baxter, Porter (Taylor, 69).

Referee Andy D'Urso.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game