Sunderland: a tragic tale of lost love, disconnect and rebuilding from scratch

A proud heritage under threat

Monsieur Salut is left at a loose end, feeling a little redundant with no need to post a Guess the Score or the Derby County “Who are You?” that is already tucked away in the safe …

It comes as something of a relief
to have no forthcoming weekend match to fret about.

In truth, the international break could not have come too soon. Some of us would almost like it to continue until May when, in silent shame, we accept our fate and prepare for life in the next division down, knowing there will be no Eric or Marco or Benno to get us straight back up again.

Tonight, in preparation for a planned chinwag between the SAFC chief executive Martin Bain and the Red and White Army on April 4, an open meeting will take place at which supporters can submit the questions and concerns they want answered (it’s at the Peacock, High Street West, at 7pm but those wishing to attend should register free of charge at .

Martin Bain has dealt politely with the Red and White Army without getting close to offering the slightest reassurance or explaining what is going on. He is not in daily contact with the absent Ellis Short but says Short’s stance on a sale remains “unchanged”.

This, as the Sunderland Echo points out, is as set out in the controlled, self-serving and therefore only mildly helpful interview Short gave (the adjectives were mine) to the official club site in November.

You’ll remember it as the one where he blamed the media for getting everything wrong while blithely stating that the one thing that might help them get it right, namely him talking to them, was something he chose never to do.

His position on a possible sale, following the breakdown of the last such proposition, was essentially this: ” … there is no longer an adviser [on selling the club], the club is not officially for sale. If there is a legitimate buyer that I can have a direct conversation with and it is a credible person, like probably any other owner of an English football team, I’ll have a conversation.”

On March 13, Bain wrote to the Red and White Army, parroting its own recognition of commercial sensitivities and the need for “many aspects of the process [to] remain out of the public domain”. He reiterated the owner’s willingness “to listen to any potential offers where he felt there would be a benefit to the club going forward”, his continuing commitment to servicing debts and said the club was meanwhile working to “live within its means”.

Most of us can easily interpret the last phrase. It is reflected in the woeful level of investment the club has had since – and indeed before – the last relegation and the consequent absence of quality on the field. Off-the-field events (Gibson, Williams and, since his is the most off-the-field issue of all if unconnected to Pc Plod, Rodwell) just deepen the gloom and convince outsiders we are indeed a basket case of a club.

In the meantime, I commend two excellent articles to Salut! Sunderland readers. They won’t cheer anyone up any more than can Pete Sixsmith’s exemplary match reports but, as with Sixer, they meet high standards of craftsmanship and vision, two of the qualities as absent from Sunderland AFC as the owner.

* James Hunter (the Chronicle):
Sample (click the reporter’s name for the full piece):

This sorry squad will break up this summer when the loan flops slink back to their parent clubs, the out-of-contract players take their chance on finding new employment (good luck based on your efforts this season, lads), and the few who might attract interest from elsewhere will be sold.

The club will have to rebuild almost from scratch, hopefully under the auspices of a new owner who is willing to put in the investment which is so desperately needed.

Only the youngsters – the likes of Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, George Honeyman, Ethan Robson, and Max Stryjek – will remain, along with those who will be shocked to find there is no queue of clubs willing to match their current paypacket.

* Phil Smith (Sunderland Echo)

Sample (click the reporter’s name for the full piece):

This is a city of fighters where grit and resilience are two qualities prized above all others.

Little wonder, then, that this team is so unloved. It is not just that they are statistically heading to be one of the worst in the club’s history, but that they seem to be so accepting of that fate.

There is a disconnect between team and city that has never felt wider.

Grim but necessary words. What is happening to our club is little short of a tragedy and we all seem powerless to have the least effect on the course of events …

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake . Go back to the Salut! Sunderland home page by clicking the cartoon

5 thoughts on “Sunderland: a tragic tale of lost love, disconnect and rebuilding from scratch”

  1. In this time of relentless misery for SAFC, I was interested to hear that one of our former stars [ who probably earned £10 a week ] is the oldest living English international.

    That player is Ivor Broadis, and fans of my era will remember this stylish inside forward in our ” Bank of England ” team of the 1950’s?

    He played alongside Ford, Shackleton, Bingham, Willie Watson and other great players, and for England in the days of Matthews, Finney and Billy Wright.

    I only got to see him once, and I recall a smooth, clever player, essentially a creator, although he got his share of goals too.

    He is now 95, and hopefully will be with us for a long time yet. We could be proud of our players in his day.

    • Four former Sunderland players turned out in the England team yesterday, one as sub. It’s not that long ago we could be proud of our players

  2. And Farewell to that awful home strip.
    Farewell to the atrocious wishy washy away strip
    Farewell please, oh please to the dreaded death march pre-match music “Dance of the Knights”.

  3. Rebuilding from scratch probably means going into administration whilst we are in the Championship. I presume the points deduction will not have an effect on League One.

    Before the end of the season I would expect to see Rodwell appear for a home game (regardless of the Manager) so I can really let rip–we deserve this consolation!!

    Goodbye to those players whose legs went some time ago–we are neither a charity nor a care facility.

    Farewell to the drinking culture and the one who was substituted before half-time during a New Years Day match.

    Farewell those players who are disgruntled by another drop in wages due to relegation.

    Farewell to contracts for just being here rather than performance related.

    Farewell to being taken advantage of by agents who rip us off.

    Farewell to the scouting staff who have been next to useless.

    Farewell to the Manger who isn’t very good plus the whole of the 1st team coaches.

    Farewell to the Bentleys and Lambos in the car park.

    And a sad farewell to ordinary staff members who will suffer redundancies through no fault of their own.

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