It shouldn't be a shock that Sunderland Chairman Niall Quinn chose to speak with the fans this week, as there's little he loves more. Quinny, along with CEO Steve Walton have took to the road this week to speak with fans and answer their questions.
So much went on we've broke it up into several parts, as the pair covered everything from players both current and former, to finances and the future.
We're starting off on some more 'behind the scenes' stuff, where they spoke at length about our owner Ellis Short. Read on...People often are quick to question our American owner, Ellis Short, asking questions like "What's in it for him?" and "What if he gets bored and leaves us?" along with "How did he even arrive hear in the first place?"... Well let Niall & Steve take you on a ride.
When the Drumaville consortium, lead by Quinn eventually parted ways with the club, Niall asked the departing members if they knew of anyone who might be interested in taking over. A few days later a fax landed on his desk, and Ellis' name was at the top.
Ellis however wasn't going to just jump in and see Sunderland as a plaything in the way many suspect Kaldoon Al Mubarak might at Manchester City, or Roman Abramovich at Chelsea. Nor was he going to invest blindly without checking the books like Balram Chainrai at Portsmouth. Ellis wanted to do things properly, and gave the books a personal going over.
He liked. He liked a lot the potential of the club, and where things could go with his investment. Quinn revealed that even before Short became the majority shareholder, he had invested more in the club than any man in Sunderland's history such was his strong belief that SAFC can succeed. Obviously he has increased that since becoming the clubs owner.
Steve Walton moved to stress that Ellis' background is in turning under-performing business into over-performing ones. I think the parallel with Sunderland is abundandtly clear there, and that Short is a winner through and through. While the books aren't looking incredible right now, Ellis hasn't given up hope of "making money out of the club" by which our CEO referred to making the club profitable, not selling up, such is his devotion to the cub.
Quinn spoke highly of Short, adding that much like he, the club had gotten under the skin of the Missouri native, citing the 3-0 win at Chelsea earlier this season as a prime example. Short was away on business in Singapore, watching the game from his hotel room at 3am. Such was the noise and passion shown by Short, the hotel asked him to keep the noise down as neighbouring rooms had filed complaints. Harking back to that winning mentality Walton spoke of, Quinn even said he's scared to speak to Short after defeats.
In the penultimate game of the 2008/09 season, when Short was about to assume full control of the club, Walton along with Short went to Portsmouth knowing a win would keep us in the Premier League. Walton suggested that should we win, we should ride the crest of the wave and announce that Short was taking full control. Short retirted rather bluntly "Forget that, we'll jump on a jet and celebrate in Vegas!" Sadly for messrs Quinn, Walton and Short, we lost.
When you've seen Ellis sat up in the Premier Concourse alongside Quinn and other directors, the billionaire (used frequently by Walton and Quinn to describe Short) seems reserved, and some could accuse him of even being bored. He isn't. Ellis is a very private person, and had been involved with the club long before we even knew. Had it been revealed that he was on board earlier, he may have walked away, but by the time he was revealed by the press, his heart was already set on taking full control of the club.
Despite his privacy, Short has spoken at length in an exclusive interview with SAFC TV, to be aired prior to the Liverpool game next weekend.
Tomorrow we'll be bringing you more news from the talk-in, including Quinn's thoughts on the future of our loanees, the Darren Bent Saga, and Steve Bruce.