Money matters: belt-tightening at Sunderland, rocky at Villa, steady at Stoke

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

In memoriam: one grounded Mag
Did the Magpie die in vain? Who ate all the best Magpie gags? See who won our little caption competition at

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.

4 thoughts on “Money matters: belt-tightening at Sunderland, rocky at Villa, steady at Stoke”

  1. Bent’s injury, combined with Villa’s poor performances will have done little to invoke any clauses in his transfer deal. The prospect of Dunne and Agbonlahor will only help the Villa fans to heave huge sighs of relief to follow on from those invoke by the departure of Big Eck. The possibility of Cuellar and Warnock would be more likely targets.

    Grant Holt? Give me a break. How old’s Billy Whithurst?

  2. So, how do we really stand financially right now? I don’t think any fan can have a clue

    Some expensive players and Gordon’s transfer fee will be off the books but will the pay off for Bruce and his coaching team cut into the transfer budget?
    And will this budget include money in for Bent and Henderson, not to mention Gyan? How much of that have we already spent or committed (e.g. sell-on clauses for Bent?)
    MON sparked a revivial in crowds and season ticket sales but this was countered by a slump that cost a few million in place prize money.

    I don’t have any answers but can see rebuilding taking more than next season because I don’t think we have as much cash as our sales would suggest.

    Hope I’m wrong but I’d rather get somewhere good slowly and then sustain it than have a single “flash in the pan” season.

  3. We have reached the stage of the season where opinions are wasted on 98 % of the rumours set running like hares, across the internet, by unscrupulous agents, seeking to tempt offers for their clients and thus in turn line their own pockets.

    Sess may be one of those with a winger from Man City as a swap. You can criticise Bruce’s purchases all over the park but whilst we may not have a team of stars, against the better teams our defence did excel from time to time and with one or two exceptions was fairly solid. The area in which we have suffered for years has been with an absence of goal scorers.

    Jones was so lazy and laid back he was horizontal. I liked Bent, he missed some but scored others with aplomb like so many of his ilk Gyan his sense of loyalty was non existent and his greed for money insatiable. Bendtner a legend in his own lunchtime flattered to deceive has the talent but not the hunger. Our midfield should contribute far more goals than they do overall so let me try to understand the logic.

    We have tow players who thus far have been as loyal as any these days who both know where the goal is and love scoring. One a natural goal scorer we decide to hamper by sticking him in defence and give him his due he has played his heart out for the team regardless of our managers doing what they always will do. If you have a player who gets on the with the job and gives of his best they always use him as a utility player and not doing what he prefers doing ie having a pop at goal. The other is Sess.

    So what are we asked to believe now we have a cracking good winger we will get rid of our two players most likely to score for us.

    You know it makes sense. Well as long as you are picking up a fee if they move.

  4. Alright Col ,free spending seems like it’s a thiing of the past for a lot of teams.Relegated Bolton are reported to be up to there eyeballs in debt,trapdoor dodgers Wigan are another who will have to work miracles.
    For the 2010-11 season we were 339 thousand in the red,a positive pittance ,lowest debt of any team in the prem only Blackpool and the dingles bettered us with no debt. Coatsey is a shrewd old git,but he’s turned around this season and said we need to sell some players to fund transfers 85 m spent for a return of 15 m isn’t to good is it.
    There are some rich chairmen out there who are going to be spending like it’s going out of fashion,but buyer beware Randy learner a lesson to us all free spending at one stage and the chairman every other team wanted….crippled financially now and hated by his fans.Tff Peter Coates 🙂 don’t suppose you’d take Jones off our hands eh???pmsl

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