In light of recent news that another potential takeover has fallen through, let's take a look at the official statement released by the club and try to make sense of it.
Described as an 'update for fans' (oh, cheers lads, nice to be considered) the official club statement reads thusly:
Recently, we informed supporters that discussions were taking place with parties who had expressed an interest in acquiring ownership of Sunderland AFC.
Subsequently, more detailed talks were held over the last week with one of these groups.
Ellis Short and the board were committed to ascertain if this group was better placed to take the club forward in the right way and to improve it, both on and off the pitch.
A defined timeframe was placed on discussions to ensure that the club could move forward quickly and decisively with its plans for the new season should they not come to fruition.
We have concluded these talks and have determined that this proposed sale would not be in the best interests of Sunderland AFC.
Ellis Short will continue his commitment to the club, both financially and personally, moving forward.
We would like to thank our supporters for their patience during what we know has been a period of uncertainty and frustration for them.
Now. I know I'm not the only one that's been hearing about the club's “best interests” in recent years and I'm eager to ask the question: what are they, exactly?
On the surface it would seem rather obvious what the best interests of a club like Sunderland would be: good transfer business, a clear and progressive marketing system, securing the services of both long-term management and staff; a solid, viable plan to stabilise club finances and take us back to the upper rungs of elite Football. These all spring to mind instantly but as we know things are never as simple they seem, to our eternal dismay.
Consider for a moment that Ellis Short has been trying his utmost to escape the ship he sunk for some time now. He has stated his intentions, even put the club in an upmarket brochure for potential investors, like some vacation adventure for the filthy rich and bored. On the cusp of completing the sale he sanctions another: the sale of our most valuable asset in Jordan Pickford, a player that neither needed to leave nor helped us by doing so.
There's another thirty million checked off the big Sunderland I.O.U that the Texan keeps tucked in the weathered leather of his buckskin boots. Transfer kitty? Don't be daft. He's consolidating his money before he moves on and he doesn't mind stripping the club bare to do it.
The Sunderland hierarchy can hide behind their faceless corporate agenda all they like, it changes nothing. We aren't stupid enough to believe that a man who has singularly failed to provide reassurance, stability and belief at any point in five years of ownership, is the man that has our best interests at heart.
It's alleged that terms were agreed. This means the financial aspect of it, i.e. the cheque with all those zeroes on it that is placed right in Short's unsteady hands, was already a foregone conclusion. This means that, monetarily speaking, Short should have been compensated adequately for his misguided venture and was comfortable with that sum, whatever it may be. So what are we to believe? That he changed his mind? Come the eleventh hour, was it the amateur illusionist Bain the Incalculating, in yet another attempt at working his fabled magic, that pulled the tablecloth from beneath the dinner service and spilled soup and garlic bread all over the contract?
No? What's that you say? It was Ellis Short's love for the club that stayed his hand? Oh I see! So the man that has publicly recognised his own shortcomings as an owner, that has declared his intentions to leave for the benefit of everyone whilst ensuring return on his investment through his orders to streamline the club and capitalise on both relegation and the sale of our assets to do so, this man has decided that he now knows the best interests of Sunderland? We are to believe that his refusal to accept the motives of another owner are solely the result of his compassion for the club and his understanding of the needs of this institution, an institution he has displayed himself time and again incapable of steering in the right direction?
So it's in the best interests of the club to continue under the stewardship of the man that spent as much money as Champions League competitors in the top flight and never finished above 13th, given half a dozen consecutive opportunities to do so? Oh, no worries there then, safe pair of hands.
Pardon my sense but what a load of utter bollocks.
So we can only imagine that something went very wrong that day in whatever conference room or hotel restaurant these people choose to conduct their business in. The most troubling aspect of this theory is that we, whose business it arguably is, have no knowledge of what that thing was. It was not in the “club's best interests” means whatever meaning you choose to give it: if I choose not to go to work and say 'It's not in my best interests' will that be useful information to the people I'm screwing over? If I can't be bothered to exercise because 'it's not in my best interests' does that make me any less lazy? So the lack of explanation becomes the crime here more than the act itself because you haven't bothered to tell the people who really care, what that crime was.
We're back to square one with these amateur spin doctors, honestly. It's tiresome. The cheap slogans suit the cheap seats but guess what? Not one of those seats in the Stadium of Light are cheap! People scrimp and save to get those seats and the least they deserve for it is transparency, not the illusion of it.
But we can't stop now because it gets better! The man that was leaving us because he couldn't stand the heat any more is staying because he has no choice, though he'll never respect us enough to tell us why.
What sort of mug do you have to be to welcome the continued residence of such a man? This is like the dramatisation of a long and arduous divorce. Forced by circumstance and stubborn pride to live in the same house as one another in spite of the fact that you hiss across the room every time you see one another, and deliberately let their tyres down and lose their keys and call them a c*nt under your breath just as they close the door.
He won't go because it's his and we won't go because it's ours. We're here until someone gets enough money and reason to fuck off elsewhere, and we all know it won't be us.
The time to say goodbye has come and gone so spare me the lip service and the lies, stop your little magician from spouting his platitudes and either speak straight or don't speak at all. Ellis didn't sell the club because it wasn't in his best interests to do so. Don't be fooled for one moment in to thinking that he's qualified to decide what's in ours.