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Redundancies announced at Sunderland; Coach on signing young defender & 3 other talking points

In this lunchtime's news roundup: Sunderland have informed staff at the Stadium of Light that there will be redunancies at the club; the coach of the Norwegian side who have taken Michael Ledger on loan explains why; Jordan Pickford is attracting attention from Saturday's opposition - who are wary of a fighting reaction from Sunderland & the referee for the Everton match is announced.

Sunderland v Stoke City - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Sunderland inform staff of redundancies

Sunderland AFC have told staff there will be redundancies at the Stadium of Light. Chief Executive Martin Bain informed personnel of the news this morning.

General Views of UK Sporting Venues Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The announcement comes as Sunderland face unparalleled financial pressures posting consistently significant debts and embarking on various cost cutting programmes to stem the tide.

With the club facing an uncertain immediate future sitting at the foot of the Premier League table, Sunderland are presumably embarking on a three month consultation period with staff by the end of which Sunderland may know which league they will be playing in next season.

Relegation would certainly impact further on the club's financial position and a prolonged period in the Championship could be hugely damaging for a club which has debts of around £140m.

The threat of job losses has loomed large at the club for several years with relegation looking almost certain at various times in the past five seasons. Sam Allardyce spoke of his relief at securing staff posts along with Premier League survival in the last campaign but the most recent major redundancies came the last time the club was relegated from the top tier in 2003.


Coach - Why we signed Michael Ledger

In an interview with Norwegian media, Viking Stavanger coach, Ian Burchnell, has been explaining his reasons for signing Sunderland defender Michael Ledger.

Sunderland v Everton: Premier League 2
Ledger in action for the Under-23s
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

The 19-year-old spent two weeks on trial with the Eliteserien outfit before returning to Wearside to take part in a couple of Under-23 fixtures including last night's defeat at Tottenham. He will now return to Norway until the end of the season.

Burchnell said Ledger had shown enough during his initial spell to convince him he would be good enough for the Norwegian top-tier:

We saw what we needed to see. We saw that he is a good footballer, but it was more about his personality and how motivated he was to be here.

We felt that he was very motivated to be here.

We have seen him play and we've chatted with others so we are comfortable that he will manage to play at this level.

Ledger has been with Sunderland since he was eight-years-old and has been a regular for the Under-23s this season.


Jordan Pickford - he has many admirers

Now that Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford is nearing a return to full fitness and the first team, transfer gossip has restarted ahead of a potential exit from the Stadium of Light in the summer.

Sunderland v Watford - Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Saturday's opponents Everton are just the latest club to join a list of admirers which includes Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. The Sunday Express have claimed that the Goodison outfit are ready to battle the Premier League's top teams to land Pickford at the end of the season.


Everton defender wary of 'fighting' Sunderland

Everton's Seamus Coleman has suggested Sunderland will be no push over when the two sides face each other on Saturday and that David Moyes' men will be seeking to put that thumping at the hands of Southampton firmly behind them.

Everton v Queens Park Rangers - Premier League
David Moyes and Seamus Coleman during the Sunderland manager's decade long spell at Everton
Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Speaking to evertonfc.com, the Blues centre-back said:

We're focused on Sunderland. We know they'll be fighting for their lives, especially after the result they had last time and we need to be ready for them.

Ronald Koeman took his squad to Dubai last week as David Moyes' lot were in New York.

Everton recorded their biggest win of last season against Sunderland as Sam Allardyce took charge of only his second game with the Blues running out 6-2 winners.


Referee for Saturday

Stuart Atwell will take charge of Saturday's game against Everton. The match will be the third Sunderland fixture the Warwickshire-based official has taken charge of this seson. He was previously the man in the middle when Burnley came to the Stadium of Light in the FA Cup Third Round last month and he was the referee for the score-draw against West Brom in October.

MK Dons v Sunderland - Capital One Cup 3rd Round
Stuart Attwell sent off Lee Cattermole in the game against MK Dons in 2012
Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

It was the 34-year-old who allowed Dirk Kuyt's goal to stand for Liverpool against Sunderland in 2010. That one was reviewed by the Refereeeing standards body but was still deemed legitimate after Michael Turner had tapped the ball back to his goalkeeper to take a free-kick only for Fernando Torres to nick it and square it to the Dutchman who scored.