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Battle for Blades reaches the High Court

Battle for Bramall Lane Photo: Press Association

The battle for control of Sheffield United has started in the High Court.

Lawyers representing Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, highlighted the nature and tone of allegations and counter-allegations in a written case outline given to the judge and made available to journalists.

Sheffield United Ltd, a company controlled by Kevin McCabe and his family, has alleged "conspiracy" and "unfairly prejudicial conduct" and seek damages.

UTB LLC, a company controlled by Prince Abdullah, wants declarations in respect of its rights under an investment and shareholders' agreement.

Barrister Andreas Gledhill QC, who is leading UTB's legal team, said Sheffield United Ltd had made "a number of allegations of serious impropriety against the UTB parties", including an allegation that Prince Abdullah "accepted a bribe".

There is also an allegation that Prince Abdullah and Mr Giansiracusa conspired with the aim of causing Sheffield United Ltd "financial loss as a means of embarrassing Mr Kevin McCabe and the McCabe Family". He said those allegations were "entirely false".

Co-owner Prince Abdullah Credit: Press Association

Mr Gledhill described email traffic during 2017. "A recurrent theme of Kevin's emails, throughout this period, as tensions were exacerbated... was to claim that any attempt to prevent him from managing the club as he saw fit, without reference to others, demonstrated an ignorance of its culture.

"For example, his 29 August 2017 email to Giansiracusa... 'I classify myself as a past working-class fan who does understand...'.

"As the dispute intensified, the xenophobic overtones of some of the emails on this point within the McCabe camp became none too subtle."

He told how emails, not from Mr McCabe, but from members of the "McCabe camp", had referred to "oily gold balls as opposed to brass balls" and had asked whether there was a "terrorist in the Sheffield United Ltd camp?".

Co-owner Kevin McCabe Credit: ITV Calendar

Mr Gledhill said that in November 2017, Mr McCabe had emailed Prince Abdullah, saying: "By the way I'm not 'interfering or meddling' - my remarks are always meant to help as SUFC's business is in Sheffield, England, not Riyadh, Saudi Arabia."

He said Mr McCabe had also emailed Mr Giansiracusa, saying: "The partnership between Prince Abdullah and myself relates to a Football Club that has for 162 years been situated in Sheffield, England.

"The culture of individuals from the North of England is naturally far different from those based and living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. We are not subservient people who respond to 'edicts demands and resolutions' in a fearful way."

Mr Gledhill said Mr McCabe had a "determination to prevent independent scrutiny of the affairs of the club" and a "habit of treating any attempt by Prince Abdullah's representatives to have dialogue with club employees as an affront to his authority".

He said in December 2017, Mr Giansiracusa had emailed Mr McCabe in an attempt to "re-set" their relationship and said: "I have no personal issue with you.

"I actually like you when you're not trying to get your way by brute force... I'm willing to overlook the insults and move forward."

Mr Gledhill said Prince Abdullah had spoken of his trust in Mr McCabe being "fundamentally undermined".

The case is due to last several weeks.