As talks on selling Sunderland collapse, are things at last looking rosier?

On sale now, June 29

So we have reached June 29, the retail launch of the new and controversial home kit (I still like the front, hate the back) and a time of the summer when all the big or ambitious clubs, and most of the ones that are neither, are well advanced in preparing for the coming season.

All except us. At least, that was the case until just now.

Talks on selling the club have collapsed, Ellis Short is staying as owner and moves are afoot to bring Simon Grayson from PNE as manager,

See club statement on Simon Grayson’s appointment as manager at this link

This is the club’s statement in full:

Recently, we informed supporters that discussions were taking place with parties who had expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of Sunderland AFC.

Subsequently, more detailed talks were held over the last week with one of these groups.

Ellis Short and the board were committed to ascertain if this group was better placed to take the club forward in the right way and to improve it, both on and off the pitch.

A defined timeframe was placed on discussions to ensure that the club could move forward quickly and decisively with its plans for the new season should they not come to fruition.

We have concluded these talks and have determined that this proposed sale would not be in the best interests of Sunderland AFC.

Ellis Short will continue his commitment to the club, both financially and personally, moving forward.

We would like to thank our supporters for their patience during what we know has been a period of uncertainty and frustration for them.

Preston North End have granted us permission to speak with Simon Grayson regarding the manager’s position.

So finally, if only because the crippling uncertainty has gone, there is reason for limited hope. If Grayson does not go the way of the last candidate we were given permission to talk to, Derek McInness, the limbo may soon end. He may not be everyone’s idea of the stellar managerial appointment, but he has done well at PNE and will at least relish the huge challenge Sunderland presents.

For supporters of Sunderland AFC, who have been asked to put up with a lot over the years and even decades, it had all begun to feel like a ghastly mess. With all transfer movement so far being out of the SoL, no one can even guess what sort of team will be available for that opening Friday night game at home to Derby County.

At least we can move forward on the appointment of a manager. And he, subject to what funds are made available, can start the process of recruitment that we all know is vital if we are to stand the remotest chance of challenging for a quick return to the Premier League.

But let’s not get carried away. The Northern Echo‘s Scott Wilson offers a gloomier appraisal: “Having invested more than £200m since he was persuaded to buy out Niall Quinn’s Drumaville consortium, Short finds himself presiding over a Championship club with more than £110m of debt.

“He knows he has no chance of recouping his investment – as this month’s talks have proved, he’ll be lucky to walk away with even a third of what he has spent – so the fear has to be that he will keep Sunderland on life support for the remainder of his reign, but nothing more.”

*** There is still time to vote
in the Salut! Sunderland associate editor John McCormick’s poll on the clubs you feel will occupy the top six places.

[polldaddy poll=9776454]

John introduced the survey with this comprehensive club-by-club assessment, having already stated that he was less pessimistic than many of us about Sunderland’s prospects.

I loyally, rather than with any immediate confidence, included SAFC in my choice. But an astonishing number of people have already voted – nearly 1,200 time I looked pand 300 of them have made their selections in the short time since this article was published – and John will be keeping us all up to date with progress and results in due course.

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake
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