Large debts, absent owner, no identity – what next for Sunderland?

first_imgWill Chris Coleman remain the manager and is he the right fit?Last November the man who led Wales to the Euro 2016 semi‑finals became Sunderland’s ninth manager in six years. Since then Coleman, whose record in club management is mixed, has won only five games. The consensus among fans is that he should be allowed to rebuild in League One and the 47‑year‑old keeps reiterating he wants to stay. Matters are complicated by Coleman having never spoken to Ellis Short, the club’s Florida-domiciled American billionaire owner who is desperate to sell. Coleman will demand the financial resources needed to mastermind a promotion challenge. If that does not happen a manager who was merely half joking when he said “I’ve thought about door-stepping Ellis”, could resign. He admits to feeling engulfed by a sense of “helplessness”.How bad is Sunderland’s financial situation?Very bad. Having been relegated from the top flight in 2017, Sunderland have the advantage of a £35m Premier League parachute payment next season but the latest financial figures, released a year ago, revealed £69m was owed to Short and £68m to Security Bank Capital, with the latter arrangement costing £8m a year in interest payments. The austerity measures implemented by Martin Bain, the chief executive, have reduced those arrears appreciably and Short is prepared to walk away in exchange for a buyer repaying a significant portion of his personal loan in addition to shouldering the wider debt but the finances remain forbidding. Progress on potential takeovers has foundered at the preliminary due diligence stage. Sunderland’s feckless decline was coming. At least fans have a parrot Jonathan Wilson A lot. Damningly no player spoke to the media – or club sponsors – following relegation last Saturday. This reflects not only a wider arrogance long evident within the club but a lack of leadership in the squad. “They’re not really bad lads and there are a few good guys in there but, collectively, it’s not a great dressing room, the culture’s not good,” confided one recent manager. There needs to be less reliance on loans – there have been seven this season – and sensible investment in restocking the squad with better characters. “It won’t take billions,” Coleman says, “but some investment is necessary.” The recruitment department could do with spending more time on their homework and less listening to agents. Tellingly, Sunderland signed three goalkeepers this season – Robbin Ruiter, Jason Steele and Lee Camp – but it remained the team’s weakest position with a series of mistakes from the trio hastening relegation. Coleman “hates that word philosophy” in a football context but is adamant the club desperately need an “identity” in which players, staff and supporters can believe. “We haven’t got an identity but I want to create one. It’s about signing the right people. You get players who are mercenaries and it’s all about money. There’s no pride in their jobs. They’re pretenders. I want to keep them away from Sunderland.” Why is Short playing truant? Share on WhatsApp Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share on Messenger Topics Sunderlandcenter_img Chris Coleman Share on Pinterest Share on Facebook Read more Share via Email Reuse this content Championship Only he really knows but it appears Sunderland are a toy with which he has become bored. Perhaps this star of the private equity world is simply ashamed of the series of calamitous decisions made on his watch. Appointing several inexperienced executives to boardroom positions – most notably the former chief executive Margaret Byrne and the former director of football Roberto De Fanti – helped explain a disastrous recruitment policy that resulted in more than 80 non-loan signings made during the owner’s decade at the helm but only six players sold for a profit. In mitigation Short has invested the best part of £200m of his fortune in keeping the club afloat, writing off more than £100m.What will next season’s wage bill be?This season’s was £35m, high by Championship standards. Some players – Lamine Koné among them – will be sold but the majority do not have clauses triggering pay cuts in the event of relegation to League One. This is because they accepted 40% wage reductions on exiting the Premier League. The exceptions are players signed from last summer onwards whose incomes will be almost halved, and the £70,000-a-week former England midfielder Jack Rodwell. A £10m buy from Manchester City in 2014, Rodwell is unwanted by Coleman but, despite making only three appearances this season, declines to leave. A contractual oversight ensured he escaped a pay cut last summer but his weekly income will drop to £44,000. That remains jaw‑dropping in League One, where the average player commands around £2,000 a week. Rodwell’s years of expensive underachievement are emblematic of Sunderland’s malaise.What needs to change? featureslast_img

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