News emerged yesterday from sources close to the club that the loan signings of Ashley Fletcher, Ovie Ejaria, and Jake Clarke-Salter might have cost the club nothing at all. Zero. Zilch. Nada. That literally every cost those players incur are covered by the their parent clubs - an extremely odd revelation which is very bizarre in the world of modern football.
January saw the club bring in five players as Chris Coleman attempted to patch a squad together capable of turning around a terrible start to the season; unfortunately, the arrivals have done little to remedy our woes.
The news that the club pay nothing for at least three of our four loan signings might seem inconsecuential to some, but it raises a host of further issues pertaining to the club’s financial position.
Ultimately the question has to be asked: just how tight were Chris Coleman’s hands tied during the January window?
Couple those cost-free incomings with multiple outgoings and things become irritating. Dider Ndong left the club on loan joining Watford - for whom he’s yet to even make an appearance - whilst Jeremain Lens and James Vaughan both left the club along with Lewis Grabban who returned to Bournemouth before joining Aston Villa on loan. Mika, too, also left the club on a free as did several youth players.
All things considered, you have to ask where the money has gone? If the reports are true and Sunderland did acquire multiple loan players for free, whilst signing Kazenga LuaLua on a short-term deal until the end of the season, did we essentially use the January window as another cost-cutting exercise?
During our time of need, did the club’s hierarchy actively fail to reinforce a faltering team? Did they look to shave yet more money from the expenditure column instead of backing a manager who had, and still has, the backing of the fans?
The club continues to find itself in a truly worrying position as we linger at the foot of the table. Our financial accounts up to the end of July 2017 will be released in the coming weeks, and as the figures rise to the surface fans will be left wondering where we stand in the here and now.
Should the news prove true that January’s signings were indeed signed for literally nothing, few fans will hail the club’s impressive negotiating skills. Instead, people will wonder why a club on the brink simply refused to reinvest money already earmarked for use.
I don’t think anybody was realistically expecting the club to bring in quality players guaranteed to halt our worrying slide, but that being said, I doubt many would have expected the club to cut costs at such a crucial time, either.
It’s often said that fans of the club expect effort, desire and fight as a bare minimum from those representing the club on the pitch. But the same should be expected those representing the club off the field too.
Martin Bain continues to argue that cost-cutting and fiscal management are his remit at the club, but from a fan’s perspective, those cheap remarks simply won’t wash. We should be demanding so much more of those figures leading us blindly toward yet another relegation as we drown in a debt as cold and perilous as the harsh waves of the North Sea.