Another weekend, another defeat - Saturday’s demoralising affair was the thirteenth of a simply dreadful campaign thus far.
What more is there to say about the troubling issues we currently face? We’re debt-ridden, and seemingly skint with a squad full of under-performing players who don’t seem capable of reversing our horrific slide towards League One. It’s a recipe that spells disaster, and the truly miserable part is that it feels like a death by thousand cuts as we continue our losing ways.
Chris Coleman might possibly be the bravest man in the world of football. He seems to understand our precarious financial position, yet remains confident he can turn things around. All we can do is out our faith in him because it’s the only option we have left. He has the remainder of this month to try and bring in the players he so desperately needs if we are to avoid the drop, and likely won’t be backed financially. Brilliant.
However, the odds continue to increase as the brows of Sunderland fans everywhere moisten because relegation to the third tier for the first time in over thirty years is a very real possibility.
The growing threat of another fall through the trap door causes the mind to think about other clubs who have found themselves in similar positions, and the worst example I can liken our club to is that of Portsmouth.
A Guardian article back in 2010 looked to clarify why Portsmouth fell from the Premier League all the way to League Two in a matter of three years. If truth be told, administration and subsequent points deductions were truly what condemned Portsmouth, yet the other similarities in their fall really are quite shocking:
The club did not make enough money to pay the multi-million pound transfer fees and high wages for the squad of star players assembled by a previous manager Harry Redknapp, who led them to the FA Cup win ... The overspending was funded with loans from Alexandre “Sacha” Gaydamak, who owned the club from 2006 until the start of this season, and with bank loans. However, as the costs grew and the recession hit, the banks demanded their money back, and Gaydamak decided he could no longer afford to fund the club. Almost the whole FA Cup-winning squad has been sold but the ongoing debts and costs, which included installments still owing on players like Johnson and Muntari, are too much for the club.
The debts, the loans and the installments remaining from the awful overspending simply crippled the club, and administration really hammered the final nail into the Pompey coffin.
Obviously we don’t have the administrators inhabiting the club and incurring a fatal points deduction, yet terrible fiscal mismanagement is what lit the fuse for Pompey’s free-fall down the football league - an issue we’re more than familiar with.
Blackburn are another side who have also fallen far from grace - though without the hindrance of administration. With spiraling debts and absent ownership the root cause of their demise, Blackburn are fighting for promotion after last season’s relegation from the second tier, and currently sit third in League One with their future still uncertain.
The similarities are haunting, with The Telegraph this time providing the comparisons:
Blackburn’s latest accounts showed the club were more than £100 million in debt while most of the best players have been sold off in recent years and replaced by free signings, loanees and academy players. More departures are expected this summer while staff fear a fresh wave of cost-cutting measures.
You could transplant our name into the opening line of that sentence and the rest of the paragraph would sound like the exact position we currently find ourselves in. Grim reading.
We’re in a truly worrying position, and the only shining light is that of Chris Coleman at the helm. However, if he isn’t given the money to overhaul this sterile squad, then our club’s fate could well replicate that of the likes of Blackburn and Portsmouth.
Those at the top of the pyramid surely comprehend the gravitas of this current situation, don’t they? Or are they so disconnected from the fans and the community that they don’t understand the damage being done? Is this just a poor business transaction to them? A mild hindrance?
We, the fans, wait on with worry etched onto our expressions as our club crumbles under the vast weight of financial obligations. Sales are made to keep the club running while minuscule sums are reinvested at an attempt at applying a plaster to a hole in the head.
People say football’s cyclical, and the good times will return. Maybe that’s the case, but right now it feels like our plight will never end. Something needs to change otherwise this season has the inevitable feeling of doom written all over it.