Looking back, Martin Bain’s recent interview with the club’s website feels like a real cathartic moment. The dreaded notion that Sunderland are perhaps penniless has been confirmed, but in an odd turn of events it would appear that David Moyes wasn’t too sure about the whole situation.
I knew I had a short summer and I wasn’t going to do much business in the summer, because it was really difficult. But I did expect to be able to do some business in January.
After spending some time pouring over the club’s accounts recently via Companies House I came to my own conclusion that Sunderland were indeed up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Hundreds of millions of pounds worth of debt coupled with no real turnover to speak of painted a rather bleak picture - one which Sunderland fans need to be aware of.
Having written one or two articles on the topic of Sunderland’s finances, some of the assertions in these pieces have been labelled moronic in their nature. Yet, Martin Bain’s declaration that the club seemingly don’t have a pot to piss in was rather intriguing in its delivery; especially when coupled with David Moyes’ veiled swipe at the men on high.
Did David Moyes really have no inclination that the club were in such a poor financial situation? Has he been lied to, or is he perhaps playing the victim in order to buy some more leeway with the fans? Either way the fact remains the same: it doesn’t look like we’ll be bringing in too many reinforcements in January.
Add the African Cup of Nations into the mix, and the fact that the club may well be pressured into selling in order to fund purchases, then the picture painted becomes fare more dour. Threadbare squad fighting for their Premier League survival - sounds like a recipe for disaster.
So what can we do in order to maintain hope?
Firstly, this week’s harbinger of doom, Martin Bain, should be a cause for encouragement. Whether or not you were happy with his recent message, the fact that he has kept us informed about the situation the club find themselves in deserves a gentle nod of appreciation. Imagine being kept in the dark throughout January? Imagine the tension and pure abhorrence that would consume the fans? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Martin Bain has lowered our expectations in order to avoid a toxic cloud of anguish that a static January window filled with hope would create. Because of his admission, we are braced for the difficulties that lay just around the corner. Some say ignorance is bliss, but in this case that cannot be the answer to our woes. In order to find hope, the fans must know the true extent of the troubles that lay ahead - Martin Bain has shown faith in us with his concession of our perilous position.
Furthermore, David Moyes’ track record in the transfer market must be something we put our faith in, too. Both he and Martin Bain have repeatedly raised the image of a journey upon which the club must embark. A journey that will not be pleasant.
Moyes’s historical dealings with financially under-performing sides, however, could help expedite the course of this awkward journey. The Scot’s ability to unearth hidden talent and forge it into quality of immense value must surely be something we can hold aloft as a ray of hope in the darkness that currently consumes us.
Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta stand out as signings of immense caliber, and for a paltry sum of just £3.5 million for the two of them. The list of shrewd acquisitions is extensive, and impressive. If Moyes can emulate some of his financial savviness on Wearside, we may be in for a surprise or two on the journey.
Furthermore, barring the Swansea debacle, Moyes has found a system that has enabled our injury-ravaged squad to play to their strengths - mainly thanks to the dazzling performances of Victor Anichebe.
With limited funds, FFP looming overhead, and a chairman apparently set on selling the club, Moyes has certainly found himself in a difficult situation. Given weeks to assemble a squad before being thrust into the most competitive league on earth spelled a recipe for disaster. Three wins from our last six games, however, speaks of a squad capable of defeating the odds and lessening the journey back to stability. Surely that’s something to remain hopeful about?
Sunderland are a club steeped in a history of turmoil: relegations, financial meltdowns, and a revolving door of managers have left us in far worse situations than this one. Amassing a pathetic 15 points in the 2005-06 season stands out as one of the worst moments of our recent history, and yet still we have overcome adversity to prevail. Ultimately the will of the people keeps this club from oblivion. No matter how grim the landscape - there has always been hope.
It is this ability to overcome and fight that has enabled us to survive against all odds. It is hope we must now grasp with both hands in order to guide us on this difficult journey. It’s always darkest before dawn.
Can David Moyes and Martin Bain be the men to guide this staggering club to safety and stability? Perhaps. But that possibility is wholly dependent on our willingness to support and keep hoping.
Keep the faith has never been such an apt phrase.