Sunderland AFC: truly a wretched state of affairs

Jake: ‘what a way to run a football club!’

Monsieur Salut writes: in case anyone wondered why Derek McInnes, and frankly any other self-respecting candidate for the long-vacant position of SAFC manager, might be tempted to run a mile …

Do we blame Ellis Short? Probably. Do we also ask whether Martin Bain is completely clueless, or a victim of corporate folly? Either way, perhaps the least welcome phone call in football is currently the one from Bain asking whether you’re interested in managing Sunderland. What in God’s name are they doing to our club?

Here is the club’s statement today. I repeat it without further comment, but invite yours:

“Since the end of the season, our focus has been to appoint a new manager. Recently, however, discussions have been entered into with parties who have expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of the club.

With this backdrop, we have been unable to give the assurances any potential candidate would need regarding the plans a new owner could have for the manager’s position. The recruitment process, whilst still very much active, cannot therefore be concluded imminently.

In talking to parties who have shown interest in acquiring the club, owner Ellis Short is determined to make sure that the best interests of Sunderland AFC are at the heart of any decision regarding its future.

We are of course acutely aware of the need to act swiftly to appoint a manager and to ensure that this is the case, have placed a time limit on discussions regarding a potential sale.

If discussions are not concluded within our defined timeframe, we will terminate the process and move swiftly and positively forward with plans for the new season.

Detailed pre-season preparations are already in place and our aim is to do everything we can to ensure Sunderland’s return to the top flight.”

14 thoughts on “Sunderland AFC: truly a wretched state of affairs”

  1. Bit shell shocked after reading the 2016 accounts. Total debt must be above £200m as the club got further finance after the year end from the US again. Lots of creative accountancy which hides an insolvent position. Only Short’s commitment to financially supporting the club renders it a going concern IMO.

    I just wonder if we have laid off future gate income like Glasgow Rangers did.

    Most worrying part is the £70m loan noted above plus the associated £12m interest payments all of which have to be paid off by August 2019. This loan is secured on the Stadium of Light, the Academy and other freehold properties. (Is the George Reynolds stadium available for hire?)

    Our unseen director Per-Magnus Andersson seems to be tasked with pledging SAFC assets on usurious terms in the Americas. Why?

    And why was Ms Byrne awarded £850,000 for loss of office?

    No business person in their right mind would buy SAFC at present –wait for the liquidation (and the 12 point deduction).

  2. The mystery, to me, is how Ellis Short ever became a successful businessman. Business success is obviously dependent upon a number of personal qualities, and amongst them surely, is decision making.

    I realise that Mr Short probably knows little about football, but, IMO technical knowledge is not particularly important for an owner.

    What is vitally important is the ability to recruit the right people into the key positions, and in this respect, our owner seems to be completely hopeless.

    During his tenure, all of his coach/managers have failed, and most of his Board members appear to be stunningly incompetent.

    During the last 10 years they have managed, with unerring accuracy to turn a famous, potentially wealthy club, into a basket case.

    I really cannot see any light on the horizon at the moment, because I find it difficult to believe that our owner and his management team will suddenly start making sensible decisions about the proposed takeover given their record of getting everything wrong in the past.

    • Exactly, and I expect these “interested parties” to do a runner as soon as due diligence is under way.

      If Short stays he must address the financial issues first and foremost else we might not have a club.

      That means the share of the cake between debt and transfer funds will be heavily weighted to the former.

      Promotion contenders? I doubt it, but the kids will be pleased with their first team opportunities.

  3. What transfer funds?

    In order to get his £100m back Short will probably present the club as virtually debt free when a change of ownership occurs.

    However there is a 8.5% loan outstanding to a US mutual fund to the tune of £70m in the 2015 accounts. I would expect the projected income from player sales and some of the parachute payment would be used to offset that debt.

    Remember Short’s forte is distressed asset funds which unfortunately involves asset stripping to some degree.

    • I should add that the US debt will be in dollars and the drop in value of the pound against the dollar makes it pretty toxic IMO. Another fine decision by SAFC!!!!!

  4. And it now looks as if the club are going to have to fork out the fee for Ricky Alvarez as the tribunal has finally reached a decision. Just one more example of the club’s incompetence.

    • The best part of €10 million.That’s next seasons transfer funds wiped out in one fell swoop .

  5. A optimistic note in the context of the darkest hour etc:
    this is a replica of 2006 when the club was last relegated.
    We became familiar with due diligence when Quinn brought
    in the original Drumville investors. It took until the first few weeks of the new season to finalise things and Keane tranformed the club. If memory serves me well the first four games were lost but Sunderland stormed to the title in 2007.

    • A repeat of that would be very welcome of course , I’m
      bracing myself for the next generation of Venkys.

      • More than likely because the difference between now
        a decade ago is that there is no comparable figure to
        Quinn, a real football man who cared for and about the

  6. This shambles rolls on and I’ve got zero faith that Short and Bain can resolve it . I genuinely fear for the existence of our club in its current form with these two in charge, and I would consider avoiding relegation in the upcoming season as a success .

  7. We don’t know if any of the interested parties have undertaken the necessary due diligence exercise or whether an offer has been made. Due diligence can take up to 6 weeks.

    Up till that point the existing management have to run the company as a going concern not make excuses for inactivity or incompetence.

    It’s not just the manager, its player recruitment that these interested parties will want a say in.

    Is this hiatus insurmountable?

    No, a temporary manager (like Old Harry at Birmingham) is feasible and at least 6 player acquisitions should be factored into any pre sale agreement. Otherwise we will not get the full complement we desperately need before the end of August.

    • I should add that Short’s unseemly rush to rid himself of SAFC has not helped either in terms of proper business planning or in the critical time-scales of close season. The appointment of Dr Keith Harris was premature and ill advised.

      Whilst Short is a billionaire I have to remind myself that his background is in hedge fund management and asset management which is a far cry from running a company and the normal disciplines thereby required.

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