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Elevation Partners, the Silicon Valley private equity outfit backed by Pope-bothering U2 frontman Bono, is eyeing a stake in FA Championship obscurists Sheffield United, it's claimed.

A report in Friday's Yorkshire Post said that the billion-dollar fund came to the Steel City this month for talks with club representatives. Elevation is reported to be vying with another, unnamed, US venture capital firm to invest in United.

Club chairman Kevin McCabe is keen for more backing to buy the Blades' way back into the Premiership. The meetings are said to be at an early stage, however, and it's noted that such negotiations often move in mysterious ways.

A 2-0 defeat to local rivals Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday finally prompted Blades manager Bryan Robson to admit that he still hasn't found what he's looking for in his current team, piling pressure on McCabe to bring in new cash.

The team were promoted to the top flight at the end of the 05/06 season, but immediately succumbed to vertigo and were sent straight back down at the end of 06/07.

Neither the club nor its alleged suitors have commented on the talks.

Bono's investment partners at Elevation include a former Electronic Arts president and ex-Apple CFO. The fund's tech ventures have included a stake in Palm, and a failed attempt to buy videogame publishing lemon Eidos.

Mandela's close personal friend's involvement in private equity has attracted charges of hypocrisy given his tub-thumping for African debt relief and other altruistic efforts. He has claimed disinterest in profits - which could work nicely at United given its turbulent financial history. ®

Bootnote

Yes, Sheffield United is your reporter's club. Yes, we're rubbish, and are likely to remain so, with or without you, Bono. Ahem.

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