Pete Sixsmith gets perilously close to causing another internal spat at Salut! Sunderland with passing thoughts on the waffle, rumour and lies that pass for football transfer news at this time of the year. But first he examines the annual Conn report on the good, bad and ugly of Premier League finances …
Football has gone quiet for a couple of weeks, allowing the England cricket team and the Olympic hopefuls to hog the headlines. A series win over West Indies would once have been an event to celebrate but now they are in such poor shape that it is the cricketing equivalent of rattling goals past Wolves (I think we managed one in two games – Ed!) or Scotland.
As for the hopefuls, there was an interesting story about UK wrestling and the influx of Bulgarians and Ukrainians who have now claimed UK citizenship and will be wrestling for Britain, if the British OlympicCommittee and UK Wrestling can agree. Some say that the newcomers are opportunists, while others say that they are there to raise the standards of the domestic game. Heard that one before, have we?
Turning to The Guardian, as a good woolly liberal does, there have been two interesting pieces these past few days. On Thursday, David Conn did his annual report on the financial well being of clubs. Based on the 2010-11figures, this is what he said about Sunderland:
US private equity billionaire Ellis Short tightened up operations, reducing 2010’s £28m loss by £20m last year. At 31 July 2011, Short’s own loans to Sunderland reached £40m and bank loans a further £33m. With Martin O’Neill now managing, Sunderland will be hoping playing improvement brings financial ballast.
That reads to me as if we are sitting reasonably comfortably as long as Ellis Short is happy to keep diverting money our way. Our contribution to the total PL debt stands at 5.3 per cent, compared with Newcastle’s 9 per cent, Fulham’s 13.2 and Manchester United’s 21.
Stoke City, regarded by many as a good model for other clubs, have no debt but are completely owned by the Coates Family and their vehicle, bet 365.
Our turnover for 2010-11 was £79m, up from £65m the year before, alas £10m less than the Mags and a staggering £250m+ less than the Old Trafford crew who rake in revenue of £331m a year.
Short is clearly trying to rein in the spending before the UEFA Fair Play regulations come in, and the removal of Gordon and McCartney from our salary bill should help.
The club who appear to be in the most serious trouble are our friends at Villa. Some 90 per cent of their income goes on wages, second only to Abu Dhabi Rovers who weigh in with a magnificent 114 per cent. However, the Abu Dhabi royal family have bottomless pockets and Randy Lerner does not, so Villa may well find it even more difficult to compete.
We are just outside the top six with 77 per cent of our turnover going to pay the likes of Bent, Gyan, and Henderson etc. So there are three that won’t be reappearing in the survey this time next year.
And to read more of this analysis, go to the following link: David Conn article
Did the Magpie die in vain? Who ate all the best Magpie gags? See who won our little caption competition at https://safc.blog/2012/05/magpies-mackems-and-mugs-another-flyer-hits-the-dust/
Talking of players appearing and disappearing, the rumour mill is grinding away. Yesterday morning’s Grauniad had a whole page on what is needed and who is being eyed up.
They suggest that the owner will encourage O’Neill to sell before he buys and that he needs to prune a large squad. Gordon has gone as has Bendtner and others will no doubt follow. The paragraph on what we need suggests what we already know: a left back, a centre half, a creative central midfield player and a centre forward.
Names that are bandied around are one I would love to see happen in Llorente from Bilbao, thus exchanging one former shipbuilding city for another. If this happened, keep an eye out for me doing cartwheels over the Wearmouth Bridge.
Holt, Hoilett, Dunne, Agbonlahor and Warnock are also mentioned, all of whom seem reasonable targets. There are also stories of a swap with City, Johnson coming to us and Sessegnon departing to Eastlands.
Speculation, dear boy, speculation (and you know what Monsieur Salut has had to say about that).
Are we financially secure ? As much as anybody is.
Do we need players? Yes
Will the rumour mill throw up more interesting names? Is the man who lives in St Peter’s in Rome a Catholic? Are the woods good places for ursine excretion?
All we can do is sit and wait.