As reported by Alan Nixon in The Sun (sorry) yesterday, Adam Pearson the owner of rugby league side Hull F.C. has allegedly made an approach to buy Sunderland AFC from beleaguered owner, Ellis Short.
According to the article, Nixon stated that:
Experienced negotiator Pearson has worked in football at Leeds, Hull and Derby and is used to facing financial problems.
In his time at the Tigers he took them to the top flight in a sensational run.
And Sunderland will need some of that magic touch.
Pearson’s backers are a closely-guarded secret but they think their offer will be better than a local consortium who have been talking for weeks.
Of course, the club’s debts remain a huge stumbling block for any interested party. Sunderland are one of only a small handful of last season’s Premier League sides that haven’t released their most up-to-date finanial records, and that will worry prospective parties - especially considering how harrowing recent financial results have been.
On the topic of new ownership, though, Sunderland fans must be cautious. Ellis Short’s time at the club is coming to a close, his reign ending in complete failure. However, Suderland fans must be careful what they wish for.
Who’s to say the next owner won’t be another unmitigated disaster? Ellis Short desperately wants to sell the club, but to sell it to someone without our best interests at heart would be awful. There’s a reason our current owner has made a fortune investing in ‘distressed assets’ - make no mistake, people will be casting glances at Sunderland looking to exploit our precarious position.
Hopefully, Short leaves with some credit in appointing new ownership with the club’s best interests at heart. Time and time again, the American businessman has suggested he himself is a fan, and that he cares just as much as we do. If that’s the case, then selling our club to someone who cares must surely be the top of his agenda?
Pearson is certainly an interesting candidate, and his work at Hull FC will likely pique the interest of many fans considering the financial improvements he’s brought to a club that has needed some help in recent years.
An interesting article from March of this year paints Pearson as a pragmatic chairman with a keen eye for financial growth and stability. Pearson himself noted that:
Over the last six or seven years we have made some significant losses so it is nice to be showing a profit, even if it is on the back of getting to Wembley once again.
We are now in a position where if we have a reasonable season we should be breaking even and if we can get to a final we’ll be showing a profit and that’s always been the goal, to make this club self-sustainable.
The balance sheet is still weak because of some historical debt that is there, but on a year on year basis the club are in a much healthier position and we are looking like being self-sustainable.
A profit of £285,000 was welcomed as Pearson suggested plans are in place to ensure the club remains self-sufficient even in the absence of silverware.
That being said, unspectacular spells with several football sides should raise an eyebrow or two. Pearson’s stint with Hull back in 2010 was a troubling time for the club who saw debts spiral and the threat of administration increase before Assem Allam stepped in to buy them.
Furthermore, a short spell at Leeds brought mixed reaction from local media, with many seeming to suggest that Pearson was the right man for the job, but at the wrong time.
As with any other potential owner, scrutiny should rightly be placed on their past endeavours as well as their hopes, dreams and long-term plans for our club. Fans must be cautious in their hopes for new ownership, and this latest rumour should be treated no differently.
I, like countless others, hope that whoever comes into the club does so with an open mind and the best interests of the fans at heart.
After such a long period of suffering, any potential new ownership sounds like a good deal. Hopefully our next owners are able to make a success of this magnificent institute. We’re a solid prospect for buyers out there... hopefully it’s just the right ones.