Martin Bain, former chief executive at Glasgow Rangers and Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv, arrived at Sunderland in May 2016. He replaced Margaret Byrne as the club’s Chief Executive after a disastrous reign had left the club in £110m in debt, losing £33m a year.
On a salary of £1.2 million he was the highest paid chief executive in Sunderland’s history, and oversaw the day-to-day running of club while Ellis Short stepped away.
For many, if not the majority of fans, Bain became a hated figure on Wearside and took a lot of criticism for his handling of club affairs that saw Sunderland slide from the Premier League to League One.
Appointed by Short to oversee mass redundancies and a series of cost cutting measures, it’s fair to say that he was never going to be a popular figure. Cast as a ‘hatchet man’, the reality of trying to negotiate and work around financial difficulties imposed by an absent and disinterested chairman are also painfully obvious to see in the new Netflix series Sunderland ‘Till I Die.
It was a job that executive director Leo Pearlman called an ‘impossible one’.
In a recent interview, Pearlman said:
I know he gets a bad rap for being Ellis Short’s stooge or whatever you want to call it, but honestly that guy was working every minute of every day [so] that he could to try and turn it around but it was an impossible task.
Was it really an impossible task? Have we been too hard on Bain?
The inability to shift players on high wages and bring in fresh bodies and attitudes to a struggling team last season did seem to sum up what looked like an impossible situation. Bain is seen describing the task of player recruitment as ‘horrendous’ when a deal to bring Derby’s Chris Martin is shown faltering at the last moment.
You work all day, all night, you have a medical lined-up for this evening because you think they player is coming. This is what I’m up against at the moment, when you are where you are in the league. Honestly, trying to get players is just horrendous.
At times, Bain comes across as the David Brent of football, showcasing an impressive watch collection while complaining of a lack of funds. The potential comedy of Bain is mixed with what appears to be genuine frustration at a lack of options. An attempt to try and tear up Jack Rodwell’s £70,000 a week contract, for instance, ends in an angry Bain seen swearing into a phone and slamming his office door.
While the documentary will ensure that Rodwell remains a hated figure on Wearside, the attempts by Bain to work around a difficult, if not impossible, financial reality have changed the opinions of some supporters. He then, of course, left his role at the end of the season when the arrival of Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven made the position redundant.
After watching Sunderland Til I Die, has your opinion of Martin Bain changed?
Has your opinion of Martin Bain changed having watched ‘Sunderland Til I Die’?
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