Fuck the Football Association - their detrimental complacency; their farcical, media-appeasing recruitment process; their misguided entrusting of unmotivated millionaires to a short-sighted, self-loathing loyalist in Roy Hodgson; for indirectly sabotaging one of its own clubs, and most importantly for inadvertently holding total control over Sunderland AFC in the process. Slow clap for the utter bastards.
Just in case you didn’t know: at the time of writing, Sunderland is compromised. That’s not an exaggeration. If we cannot actively prepare to compete in the 2016/2017 Premier League season without consequences, we’re compromised.
We have a team manager in Sam Allardyce who, inside a week, has gone from club hero to hindrance. Forget his club interviews, forget his preferred publicity; the man requested and attended a meeting with the FA – Sunderland is not his priority.
So he should go! That’s what many supporters say. It’s only been a few days, but they’ve been long days. And now, focus has shifted toward that popular scapegoat, Ellis Short, and the obvious question: why isn’t the Chairman pulling that trigger for the good of the club, and replacing Allardyce immediately?
It’s a fair question. But! Let’s follow the money, let’s talk about compensation, and let’s talk about how – again! – Ellis Short would be reluctantly throwing money at another letdown so, what, he can berate the club in a few months? That’s not Big Sam’s way, but it’s still what ungrateful ex-managers Steve Bruce and Paolo Di Canio did. You’d think Short would rather not lose control of his (and the club’s) money again so easily.
And that’s the whole point here: the more you, me and sports news talk about the FA’s considerations, the less it sounds like Ellis Short and Sunderland have sway in them. So, for the sake of at least appearing to have some measure of control, the club must surely be readying to deal one hell of a card to the FA when the dust settles on this whole sorry saga.
And it’s likely. Just think about Ellis Short the businessman for a minute. We don’t get many looks in at how our Chairman operates, but when we do, it’s usually accompanied with the tag line – ‘ruthless’. That’s what brought him his grand wealth, and ultimately what brought him to his status at Sunderland AFC today. Ellis Short is the man in charge of this club, not the FA.
So why does it feel like his club – his business – has been forced into inactivity by its own governing body? Again, compromised.
Hopefully, it is because our Chairman has the foresight to realise (even if the FA doesn’t) that he can be as ruthless as he wants to be in regards to the terms of the FA’s compensation should Sam Allardyce depart Wearside.
Come to think of it, that money-ball is already rolling. On 13th July, Sunderland issued a deliberately-worded statement that subtly hints future blame at the FA should the club’s preparations for the coming season be continuously damaged or disrupted by the national team managerial appointment.
As it stands, even if the FA does not appoint Allardyce to coach England, Ellis Short and Sunderland have every right to demand compensation for the timing of all this alone. From a purely recruitment perspective, there’s enough ammunition for Ellis Short to use. So just imagine what firepower the Chairman can hurl at the FA should Sam Allardyce become the next England manager.
Here’s a disruptive chain of events to start with: on the 19th of June, the FA were reported to have informed Roy Hodgson to compete in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 or be dismissed. That is tantamount to a vote of no confidence and that is when Sam Allardyce should have been contacted – not a month later; not two weeks after Hodgson’s prepared resignation; and not ten days after a club’s pre-season had started! That is thoughtless and damaging deliberation.
Now look at Sunderland’s transfer activity this summer. I’m joking, there isn’t any. But there was a £12m bid for Diafra Sakho and it actually made sense; the Senegalese was a good striker at West Ham United – when Sam Allardyce coached him. But now, would he even want to join a Sunderland without Big Sam? Would any player want to join a club that doesn’t know who its manager will be tomorrow? Would any player want to stay not knowing who their manager will be tomorrow? That sounds damaging, don’t you think?
Now, say the FA drag this out and don’t appoint Allardyce immediately. Say they do it next week, or in two weeks. If you’re Ellis Short, you’d be an indescribable oblong of rage, and there’d be little to stop the Chairman from raising the stakes in remuneration.
In theory, could he have the club demand a higher sum of money for the additional time taken to appoint a national team coach? Could he even demand a higher figure for every passing day that it takes? He could, if he wanted, and really he should.
Or better yet, why not make an extravagant demand? This is our club and his – we have days remaining before the season begins and are now a fortnight into what has been simultaneously the most significant yet depressing transfer window in recent memory. So why not go all out and demand the FA stump up the money for a new player? This is Sunderland making the loss and is a no-win situation for the club. Is losing Sam Allardyce not equal to the price of a new player? A million or two sterling does nothing for Sunderland when we lose the foundation of our entire newfound stability.
Sunderland’s statement on Sam Allardyce was not to appease the fans, in my opinion, but rather solely intended for the eyes of the FA.
The governing body has carelessly torn up Sunderland’s preparations for what should have been a most promising season, and the club has, quite fearlessly, prepared the FA for a backlash should they prolong this. This is Ellis Short attempting to force their hand, as he should well be doing to Sam Allardyce also. Should the FA not resolve this matter soon, we may just see how ruthless our Chairman can be.