Ever since our relegation from the Premier League there have been rumours and whispers of Sunderland going into administration - understandable perhaps due to the club’s current debt level - but Martin Bain has assured supporters that it is not on the cards under Ellis Short:
Ellis does not have any desire to put the club into administration. Ellis funds the club’s losses, I have spoken to him and he has assured me that he will continue to do so. He has told me that he will not put the club into administration.
Although that should be good news, the fact remains that the club will continue to suffer while Sunderland AFC is in the hands of an owner who no longer wants to fund any part of the club, something Bain acknowledged, but he did say that a potential takeover will be a game changer for the club and that there are a few meaningful parties interested in taking over from Short:
It’s been an extremely difficult period for everyone connected to the club. I’m feeling that pain that people are attached to the football club. In terms of where we are now, we’re a club that has failed and any club that has failed has to look back and see where it went wrong.
But fundamentally there’s a backdrop. That is that when I came to this football club two years ago it was one that was haemorrhaging money and to the extent that it was hugely reliant on owner funding. Couple that with a relegation from the Premier League and it culminates in an owner who no longer wants to fund the club, other than what is absolutely necessary to keep it going.
It’s been a difficult, difficult time for all concerned. I don’t look at it as me inflicting pain, but keeping things glued together. There aren’t many football clubs in the world that could be massively dependent on owner funding then suddenly succeeds on the pitch if those funds are no longer available. My job is to protect the institution.
And on a potential takeover, he added:
There are a few parties who are currently looking at the club in a meaningful way. I would really hope that now the club knows its position in terms of which league it will be playing in, that might give some clarity to any potential buyer to formulate their thoughts and a deal.
I have one single priority at the moment, to try to assist a sale and help full diligence be done. We have an owner who is very actively trying to sell the club and that will be the game-changer for Sunderland. We hope a new owner comes in, will have a better financial backdrop than what there has been in recent years and will be able to provide that spark.
My role is getting one key stakeholder or investor to have discussions with Ellis. Ellis knows the headline price that he would like and how those payments should be staged and then he will hand them back to me and I will guide them through due diligence.
That’s the point I sit down and explain what has gone wrong in the past which has got the club to where it is. But then it’s about showing you what a fantastic club it can be again if A, B, C and D are done.
Bain doesn’t believe the club’s debt will be a stumbling block to any takeover attempts but admits that having so many high earners who no longer wish to be here may hinder attempts to sell the club.
Yet, the Chief Executive says that we will not be held to ransom as we look to move those players on in the summer:
I wouldn’t say debt is the fundamental problem, I’d say it was very much about the running costs and future financial forecasts.
Some of the players that we have probably don’t want to be here, and haven’t wanted to be here for a long time and are consuming vast amounts of the club’s budget. When you look at that on a piece of paper without knowing their mental state as I do then you just see liabilities.
That’s where I come in to say that I am not paying players off and putting compensation packages together, equally I’m not immune to the fact that the club is in a difficult position because we want to realise some transfer spend from some of those possible assets.
People may see us as easy pickings in League One knowing we need to get high salaries off the budget.
So there is still a lot of work to do if we are going to see new ownership before the start of next season.
But, regardless of whether Short is here or not, Bain believes Chris Coleman is the right man to lead Sunderland - and says the club’s transfer business must be improved, even if they need to go cap in hand to the American billionaire:
Where it all starts and ends is recruitment and I get the frustration on that side. We’ve not got that right. This summer, if the club is not sold, we’re looking at probably 14 players required. At that point I would have to sit down with Ellis and present those facts.
We have a great manager in Chris, who is the right person, and we have a massive determination to make things right.
You can listen to Martin Bain’s full interview with BBC’s Nick Barnes on the BBC Radio Newcastle website by clicking HERE.