The owner speaks: Ellis less Short on words than before

Another sobering assessment of the season is nearly ready to appear as the second of Salut! Sunderland's end-of-term reports. Meanwhile, amid denials that Drumaville consortium members ended up losing on their investments (everyone received a "respectable" return, according to Niall Quinn, a "modest" one according to them), Ellis Short* has spoken …

, relief, gratitude to the fans and, in defiance of instructions from Niall Quinn to say how far Sunderland AFC can go, a willingness to stipulate a top 10 finish next season as the first step on that route.

That, in short and in Short's own words, is Ellis, newly elevated to 100 per cent control of the club.

Not the most illuminating, incisive interview you'll ever come across – more Parkinson with favoured guests than Parky with Meg Ryan – but the proper response is probably merci for small mercies. What's more, I've also had to interview my own bosses at times, so know the score …

Read the full interview at the official club site. But it would not infringe copyright rules to offer a couple of his comments.

Short described the emotions he experienced last weekend as being pretty much the same as those of the rest of us.

Happy, yes, but relief was his word of choice, "relief that two months of fear and nervousness is over" and, by implication, the lifting of the threat relegation posed to future development. "We've got a lot of good plans for the future and relegation would have been horrible."

He heaped praise on Niall – a "very smart footballer, very smart about the Premier League and a wonderful chairman who knows more about football than I ever will" – as well as on the supporters.

Sunderland were a "big, proper football club with the best fans in the league" and the benefits of a great stadium, some of football's finest training facilities and enough else to forge a successful, powerful future.

The key answer was to the question on what, a few years from now, could be seen as successful progress.

Ellis Short replied:

"Well Niall told me not to answer that and not to promise too much but … I became involved late last summer and our only real goal this year was not to get relegated, and with the money we spent last summer we probably shouldn't have come as close as we did … we'll do what we need to do this summer to get this team into a place where we can try to finish in the top 10 next year. I don't ever want to go through a relegation battle again and I don't want the fans to have to go through it, I don't want Niall to have to go through it… And in the longer term we just want to continue to improve and always run things well. I don't want to promise things and not be able to deliver but that's genuinely what we are going to try and do."

There's more, as I suggested, so go to the for the full Q&A.

* A profile in today's Guardian tells of Ellis Short's distaste for the limelight, a spot of unpleasantness with the South Korean authorities and – at odds with not wanting too much attention – his ownership of Skibo Castle, the Scottish wedding venue of Madonna and an exclusive retreat for the monied and powerful.

An Irish-American, Short made his fortune in the highly competitive world of private equity and hedge-fund management. He began his career at General Electric before teaming up with business partner John Grayken in the mid-1990s at Lone Star Funds, a private equity firm based in Dallas, Texas, with huge success. It was here Short built up his business acumen, securing his position as senior executive, running the Asian operations. Since 1995, Lone Star have established funds worth more than $13.3bn (

Next Post