It would be an exaggeration to suggest Martin Bain as a name to inspire great affection and confidence among the fans. He may merely be doing Ellis Short’s bidding in energetically cutting costs to please the owner. But the cost to the club of that exercise has become painfully clear and Bain must realise he bears a sizeable share of responsibility for our shocking position.
Salut! Sunderland would be quite pleased to see the back of him, and suspects most supporters feel likewise. But in the interests of fairness, and in line with our desire to report all sides on major issues affecting the club, here is a piece quoting his remarks to local media. The comments – drawn from interviews with the Sunderland Echo/Shields Gazette, Newcastle Evening Chronicle and the BBC (*see footnote for links), seemed designed as much to send upbeat messages to potential buyer as to appease supporters, though he says he ‘totally understands’ their anger, anguish and frustration ….
Martin Bain believes new ownership could turn club around.
Relegation for the second consecutive season, confirmed by the 2-1 defeat to Burton, completes a disastrous couple of years at the Stadium of Light.
As we all know, the owner Ellis Short is looking for a way out. He has previously been reported as being willing to hand over the club for free if new owner/s to took on the massive debts, though we don’t know his precise thoughts since he chooses not to share them and the chief executive still talks in terms of a “sale” and of Short “knowing the headline price he would like”.
In any event, the SAFC chief executive believes a change of ownership would give the club the jolt it so sorely needs.
“Being sold would be a game-changer,” said Bain*. “The club has good people, wonderful fans and great infrastructure. It just needs a spark.”
If you’ve done any football betting in the UK over the last couple of years, you’ll know that betting against the Sunderland has been a fruitful endeavour and I would be very suprised if anyone put anyone from our club into their Premiere League fantasy football sqaud! Our club finished bottom of the Premier League last season with a woeful tally of six wins, six draws and 26 defeats and seem likely to finish last once again with a similarly disgraceful record, with two games left, of 6W, 16D, 22L in the Championship.
The most recent figures, made available back in 2016, showed Sunderland burdened by debts totally £137.3 million. Updated figures are expected to be released soon.
But Bain said: “It won’t take a lot to make this club great again, it’s all here. Stating the obvious, anyone coming in would hopefully have the necessary sort of funds, would no longer have the financial backdrop that the club has had for a number of years and hopefully will provide that spark. I feel positive because anybody who looks at where the club is can see it’s a distressed asset but it has everything in place to springboard from.”
Bain has been in his current role since taking over in the summer of 2016. He said that while the club’s current owner has been “pro-active” in attempting to sell the team in the past, he does not want to pour money into the club beyond what is simply necessary to get by. BBC Sport has reported that Adam Pearson, who formerly owned Hull City, has decided against pursuing an interest in Sunderland.
Bain also said he believes manager Chris Coleman is the right man to lead Sunderland out of the third tier.
Coleman took over for Simon Grayson last November after a disastrous start to the Championship season. The hole into which Sunderland had fallen proved far too deep for him and the team he inherited to dig their way out.
Even so, Bain is not sufficiently discouraged by Coleman’s efforts to be considering a potential replacement. “Chris is fundamentally the right type of individual for this football club and he and I have a massive amount of determination to get this right,” he said.
Foolish spending on player, followed by hardly any spending at all, has left the team struggling to make ends meet. While some squad members may not want to stick around given the latest relegation, Bain is opposed to buying players out simply to get them off the payroll.
“Some of the players that we have probably don’t want to be here, and haven’t wanted to be here for a long time and are consuming vast amounts of the club’s budget,” he said. “When you look at that on a piece of paper without knowing their mental state as I do then you just see liabilities. That’s where I come in and say that I am not paying players off and putting compensation packages together.”
This factor may be among the stumbling blocks for prospective buyers. But Bain remains optimistic that Sunderland can turn things around sooner rather than later if the right owner takes the reins.
* Bain – and OK, he is not the bane of our lives, just one of them – also spoke of his efforts to identify players who might be available at the end of the season and continuing takeover interest from unnamed others. There’s also his unconvincing rationale for selling Vito
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