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Podcast Notes: Sunderland don’t need to spend a fortune to get out of League One, and here’s why

Plenty of big clubs have dropped into League One and have been able to immediately rebound with a promotion without spending a fortune.

Roker Rapport Podcast

Last week we had Sunderland owner Stewart Donald on the show for a good 90 minutes, where we talked everything from renaming the stadium, to kits, transfers and anything else related to Sunderland AFC.

As always the interview went down a treat, which is a credit to Stewart as he is open and transparent. He never shies away from a question and genuinely does try to give us all as much information as possible.

Fast forward to today and we have signed a handful of players without spending any money. As a result, some people are declaring that this shows that we have no money, and that we are trying to rebuild our squad on the cheap.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what people expected this summer regarding transfers. Maybe the fact we were told we would have the biggest budget in the league made people think we would spend millions on players - but what would be the point in that?

Mexico v Scotland - International Friendly
Zip, zero, zilch!
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Why do football clubs buy a certain player? Pretty basically it’s because they believe he is worth a certain value to their team in regards achieving their goals. When you’re a League One club there really is no need to invest huge amounts of money in signing players because there are so many available for free who are just as good.

Think about when we signed Darren Bent in 2009. We paid a club record fee for him because he was the best possible player we could afford and he would improve the team. In League One, there are dozens of players in every position available on free transfers who would make for a decent signing at this level.

I did some digging, and I researched what other big teams spent in the past upon arrival in the third tier in order to get themselves back out as quickly as possible.

In the 2009/10 season Norwich City won League One and spent £650,000. The majority of that budget went on Grant Holt, who cost them around £500k. The rest of the squad comprised of free transfers and nominal transfer fees.

A year prior to that, Leicester City were in League One and exited as champions. They spent less than £1 million on six players.

In 2013/14 Wolves found themselves in the third tier after successive relegations - much like ourselves. They spent under £3 million on their squad over the whole season. In the summer window they spent £1.4 million, and gained promotion as top dogs.

As history shows us it’s not a big deal if you don’t splash huge sums of cash on new players. Promotion and success at this level does not depend upon Sunderland buying their way out of the league, but instead spending wisely and buying the right type of players that have the desire to make the most of playing at such a fantastic football club.

Norwich City v Gillingham - Coca Cola League One
Norwich spent half a million of Grant Holt... £150k on the rest of their League One rebuild.
Photo by Jed Leicester/Getty Images

What we can offer, though, are competitive wages. While we know that we will not offer silly wages to players, we can still outbid almost every team at this level for free agents.

Stewart clarified on the Podcast what our wage structure would be and how that would compare to previous sides. Our £14 million budget would be double what sides like Wigan had last season - it is a monumental amount of money at this level.

So do not fear, we can all have reservations on the new ownership, but they have barely been here a month and we need to give them time. The fact is we need about 15 players; we need to get rid of the high earners and we need to fill the squad with players capable of playing at this level.

If we can sign ten players on free transfers to fill the squad out and then buy five quality players, then we will be laughing.

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