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EXCLUSIVE: Sunderland owner Stewart Donald on January transfer budget - can we afford to spend?

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In his latest appearance on the Roker Rapport Podcast, Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has spoken about our ability to spend in January, and how having high earners in our squad could impact our budget.

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Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald kindly returned to the Roker Rapport Podcast earlier today, which will be available to watch early tomorrow morning - details of how you can listen can be found at the bottom of the page - and he explained how much the attitude of Bryan Oviedo and Lee Cattermole has differed from the AWOL pair of Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong:

From a footballing perspective, they have been great, especially Lee Cattermole. I’ve never questioned his effort and commitment, or indeed his wage, what I questioned was the way his agent was going about things.

Lee has been absolutely professional and he has been enjoying it I think.

I think Lee would like to stay at the football club and I think Lee has been really enjoying playing for Jack. That is a positive for Lee Cattermole and it’s a positive for the team as he’s done fantastically well. He’s given 100% and when you watch him, you want him to do well and the fans have got behind him. Credit to him especially, he’s come in and been the heartbeat of the team.

Bryan, unlike the other players has turned up and given 100% and while he’s here he gives 100%.

It’s not entirely good news regarding the pair though, as both are on wages way in excess of the typical League One footballer, with Donald admitting that it has made it difficult to find buyers:

Financially, yes, it’s bad news but that isn’t their fault.

[Bryan] is on an awful lot of money. I read an article that said the average Championship wage is £8000/9000 per week and when you’re trying to talk to people about wages, you’ve got a League One footballer who earns more than a Championship wage by some fair distance, they are difficult to manoeuvre on.

Donald then discussed the financial impact of having players that are still on Premier League wages while we are a League One club and what that means going forward as we look ahead to the next transfer window:

When we came in, we basically did a budget that said we’d have £10m in wages and we’d probably have to spend £4m tidying up contracts, the Jack Rodwells, etc. The reality is that we actually spent zero tidying up contracts but that money is worse than that because we haven’t been able to get rid of Ndong, Djilobodji and a couple of others. So we are way, way over that. That’s bad news.

We’ll see where we go with Papy and Ndong but the rest of the squad with the players that we’ve got, I think we’ve got the wage bill down from £20m odd, excluding those two, the existing squad is down to £11m. We’ve managed to halve it and the new squad has cost about £3m to put together.

That tells you the challenge that we have because in this league £3m-4m is a decent wage and a £5m-6m budget and you’re at the top. We’ve spent that on players, the £3m-4m, but we’ve still got £11m in the existing squad, although we don’t have £11m worth of value probably.

With League One revenues, even with 30,000 fans, that’s not sustainable. We’ve had one window, so over the next couple of windows we are going to have to try and improve that but the problem is that it has left us with almost no wiggle room.

January is going to be a challenge for us because of what we’ve got in our squad.

He was then asked what was next for Sunderland AFC, amongst his answers was another insight into how much work is needed so the club can dip their toe into the transfer market in January to strengthen Jack Ross’ side:

Organising the budget in January so we can do the work we want to.

We’ve got to get ourselves into a position whereby if Jack needs something in January we are in a position to do it. There is going to be some work needed in January to make sure that happens.

That is just a snippet of what was discussed on the show and you can listen to his interview in full from first thing tomorrow morning when the Roker Rapport podcast is released on iTunes, acast and YouTube.

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