Years of poor decision making has left Sunderland in a perilous position both on and off the field, and with Martin Bain’s affirmation yesterday that money will be tight in January - questions must be asked about the future of our club.
The questions needn’t be asked by pitchfork-wielding fans seeking mob justice, for where would be the sense in that? We don’t want to see dirty bed-sheets covered in crudely scrawled words of angst. Instead, we want to see and hear people like Martin Bain be very open and composed about what the stark reality is that our club now faces.
How much money will there be? The word I would use is ‘limited’. I could probably say ‘very limited’ with regards to the January transfer window.
The interview is grim, yet dogmatic in an almost comforting manner. The looming enigma of January funds has been cracked, and in essence: we’re skint.
But that’s not to say that there is no hope.
Bain was eager to stress that there is a long-term strategy in place; pointing out once more that ‘player trading’ would be the pivotal in both the short-term and the long-term. In the interview with the club’s website, Bain mentioned that something along the lines of only three of the forty-six players sold since 2009 have been sold on at a profit. A quite staggering statistic that highlights the serious financial issues that have plagued the club in recent years.
Bain also went on to mention that although the club’s level of debt is concerning it doesn’t necessarily place the club in a precarious situation as of right now, but it most certainly will affect our future dealings in the transfer market. There was several reasons as to why the club wouldn’t be able to splash the cash in January, with Bain explaining:
The reasons are threefold – the Premier League rules on wages, which we have to be very conscious of, and then there is the aspect of where the club in recent years has reached a point where we can’t keep having this short-term fix because it just keeps coming back full circle.
The other aspect is that David and I have only been here a handful of months, and when you are looking at the acquisition of players, you want to do the right kind of diligence. You really want to get it right.
Using the metaphor of a needle changing direction, Bain was steadfast in his notion that the main way to help resurrect our worrying financial position was via buying and selling - an area where a strategy has already been developed. In order to swing the needle from empty to full, Sunderland will have to cash in on star players - something Bain has already told fans in the past. Ultimately we must accept that this is the strategy that can best help restabilise the crumbling foundations of our proud club - however upsetting the notion may be.
Coupled with the inability to spend on transfers, Bain was also quick to point out that the club’s wage bill hasn’t necessarily dropped despite a flurry of departures last summer. The exits from the club likely weren’t enough to outweigh player acquisitions and contract extensions, and thus we are struggling to find cash for increased wages as well as transfers.
I imagine at this point in the article some of you will be foaming at the mouth shouting for Short to sell the club at the first available chance. Yet Bain, in his clear concise manner, cleared up the role Short plays in the club’s functioning, too.
Ellis currently covers the shortfalls at this football club. That has to be remembered, and in many ways applauded.
Our owner would be the first person to admit he is a passionate man who has put a lot of money into this football club, and he has got some things right and some things wrong. I don’t wish to talk for him, but I think he realises that stability in the management of a football club is what underpins the club going forward. We’ve not had that.
Has Ellis been a moron? Yes. Has Ellis also dipped into his own pocket in an attempt at making this club as successful as possible? Yes. To be clear here: Ellis is not singularly at fault. He has entrusted his money with people who he thought would help this club to progress; unfortunately, those appointments were more toxic than terrific.
Ultimately, it’s moments like this - when Bain clarifies the lingering doubts swirling in the minds of the Sunderland faithful - that the fans have been clamoring for. It feels like an eternity since there was a face answering our questions, and I for one have a lot of time for the current Chief Exec.
Who else has given us the time of day to address our woes? Who else has looked to bring the club back to its roots: us? Who else was willing to deliver the bitter with the better?
Martin Bain might not deliver us the news we want, but at least he values us enough to keep us informed, and that is worth its weight in gold as a football fan.