Sheffield United: Blades boss Paul Heckingbottom under no pressure to sell from board

Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis says manager Paul Heckngbottom will be under no pressure to sell this summer.

Although a second season in the Championship is unlikely to appeal to Sander Berge and the Blades will surely be happy to cash in if they get their initial £23m investment back rather than have an unhappy player on their books, there will still be money to spend this summer if not.

The assumption was that Berge would move on last summer, but there were no takers.

Releasing the likes of David McGoldrick and Lys Mousset, the end of loans for Premier League players such as Morgan Gibbs-White and Ben Davies, plus a second year of Premier League parachute payments - albeit it at a reduced rate - have left the club on an even keel for next season, with a small kitty for the additions Heckingbottom wants. But the club also hope to make good use of the loan market again.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom Picture: Darren Staples/Sportimage

“I talk a lot about running a sustainable football club,” said Bettis. “We’ve always tried to make it work that way and that’s how we’ve done it historically.

“We do not sit here and say, ‘We need to sell X in order to survive’. We’re saying we want to go again for next season with a level of investment we can make in players as well.

“When you buy a player 99 times out of 100 you don’t pay for him in one go. You pay for a player over a two to three-year period.

“Everyone knows we paid £120m, £130m in the Premier League on players but all of that wasn’t paid immediately so there’s still payments for some of those players that need to be made. The reality is, that’s what the parachute payments are for.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom (right ) next to CEO Stephen Bettis Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“So there’s not a pressure for Paul to sell and there wasn’t last season. The owner was very clear: keep the core of the squad together but if an offer does come in that we feel is in excess of our valuation of a player, we’ll look at it and Aaron Ramsdale was an example of that. We got to the point where we felt it was too good an offer to turn down.

“I think it was good business for us and Wes (Foderingham) came in (to the first team) following Aaron’s departure and he’s been great for us this season.”

Gibbs-White was United’s player of the season in 2021-22 after coming on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers. He played so well there seems little prospect of him returning, but it is a market the club will use again because it gives them access to a higher standard of player.

“I think we’ll be looking again at Premier League clubs,” he said. “I think our reputation with a lot of Premier League clubs is that we take their players, look after them, give them opportunities and they’re happy here.

“Morgan Gibbs-White last season was a prime example, and (Dean) Henderson was another where we utilised the market and it worked really well for us as a club and for the parent club in terms of bringing the player on and enhancing their value to them.

“We’ll definitely look at the loan market again because that’s where we feel you can get real quality players who can make a big impact on your team.

“Morgan made a big impact for us and was a big player for us so if we can emulate that next season with another player or two players, that will be great for us.”