Two abrupt departures from the club and no, we don”t mean Cristian Riveros off on loan to Kayserispor following Jordan Henderson’s sale to Liverpool. Pete Sixsmith ponders Sunderland AFC’s announcement that two boardroom figures are “stepping down” but is already too late with his cry of “gizza job”* …
I did intend to write a jolly little piece on the delight of pre-season friendlies – Little Titterington Wanderers v Great Bumstead Athletic, that sort of thing, when I saw the news that Steve Walton and Lesley Callaghan were leaving the club.
So I immediately turned to the club website and read the usual bland, corporate statement that all institutions give when there is a change at the top. They are “stepping down” from their positions, their “professionalism and commitment” have been invaluable and “we are sorry to see them go”. All said in the name of Niall Quinn, although I would be surprised if he had actually written the press release.
The departing pair spoke warmly of their time at SAFC, with Steve Walton saying it was “an honour and a privilege to serve” the club he had always supported and Ms Callaghan expressing “deep gratitude to the exceptional professionals I have worked with in my 19 years (here)”.
Which raised the question: if they have enjoyed it so much, why are they leaving?
Neither I nor the site proprietor has any insights into the machinations that go on within the football club. M Salut was a distinguished journalist for many years – steady on with the past tense, Pete – ed – and would fabricate, er, sorry, write stories without recourse to rummaging through dustbins or hacking into mobile phones a la News of the World.
There may be perfectly good reasons, but it does seem a little strange that 66 per cent of the board have just left in circumstances that can only be described as less than transparent.
What can we read into this? The answer, of course, is whatever we want to read into it, because as sure as eggs are eggs, the club will say nothing else and the Departing Two will have a silence clause to accompany not inconsiderable pay offs.
Has there been a falling out with the owner? Does Ellis Short want to bring his own people in as Lerner has at Villa and Ashley did at Newcastle? How secure is Niall Quinn’s role? He said five years was probably long enough to stay as chairman when he headed the Drumaville consortium in the summer of 2006.
The transfer policy over the summer has been sensible. The Henderson money was impossible to turn down and we have brought five players in for that fee. But are there problems behind the scene? Is the owner looking for some kind of return on his investment – except that owning a football club is not an investment, it’s a great way to spend an awful lot of money extremely quickly. I am sure that all of us hope our recent stability is not threatened
As for the new CEO, I am dusting down my CV and forwarding it to the club. A career change is called for as I approach retirement and what better way than dealing with agents and owners. Can’t wait to have a go at Harry Redknapp …
* the official statement can be found here. And learn about our new chief executive, not Pete Sixsmith but the “talented legal director Margaret Byrne … a rising star in both legal circles and the football industry and short-listed for the UK’s prestigious Solicitor of the Year award” here