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What do you think of Sunderland’s owners potentially ‘going global’ and buying other clubs?

Sunderland’s owners have been linked with the purchase of other clubs abroad, and are apparently in talks to buy CA Rentistas. What do you think of the bigger picture stuff, and the potential merits of having a ‘group’ spread across the world that effectively acts as a scouting tool for the club in previously untapped markets?

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Damian Brown says...

Put simply, I think it’s a crucial stage in the evolution of Sunderland AFC.

Sir Alex Ferguson once generously described us as “a small club from the North East”, and much as that may have stung the pride of many fans, in the grand scheme of global football it wasn’t far off the truth. While it can be said that at that time we were on an elite, global stage, we were effectively floating on the surface, bloated and buoyed by years of aimless investment.

The contrast between then and now is stark. Two divisions lower and we’re finally fortunate enough to see a methodical, business-oriented approach to the running of what is fundamentally a business endeavour. We can be as romantic as we please in our wants as fans of the club we love, but our needs are very different. If we’ve learned anything over the last ten years it’s that if you don’t treat football club ownership as a cold business model, everyone and everything involved in that football club suffers; mass redundancies, the loss of quality talent at all levels and, saddest of all, the potential loss of future generations of supporters.

The benefits of being at the top of a pyramid of clubs in this ‘group’ scenario are plentiful. Vertical integration would allow the club to forge solid paths for player development by guaranteeing preferential loan spots. It would allow us to grow our talent pool exponentially, and lay down roots for audience and market exposure that are tangible, profitable and long-lasting.

This is what it takes to become more than a local flavour.

KLD could blindly invest hundreds of millions into the playing squad without thinking twice about it, and we might see a brief flash in the pan that makes us hope for international recognition, but we’ve seen it all before and we know where it leads. Instead, deals of this nature are about laying the foundation for Sunderland AFC to become a self-sustaining club by emulating the success of others in the business.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Phil West says...

In theory, the idea of Sunderland being part of a wider network of clubs and becoming the kind of football club that casts its net wider is an intriguing and exciting one.

We touched on this during Friday’s Twitter podcast, and Man City was cited as an example of an organization that’ve linked up with other clubs around the world to form a sort of footballing armada, and it’s certainly a kind of plan that sounds very ambitious.

However, in order for Sunderland to successfully embark on such a project would require some major financial clout, which we do now seem to possess, as well as an infrastructure that could take a significant amount of time to implement.

It would also be very important to ensure that we don’t attempt to run before we can walk. After all, the immediate goal is to secure a return to the Championship, and if and when we achieve that, we can begin to set our sights even higher.

In terms of CA Rentistas, you have to assume that Juan Sartori’s influence is playing a major role in this potential purchase. You would think that it is a club that he is familiar with, and that he sees significant potential in, and perhaps it could open up a pathway for Sunderland to recruit some exciting talent from South America in the future.

There are clearly big plans ahead under the new regime, and while we can’t lose sight of the immediate goal, I think it’s good to wonder about what might lie ahead in the years to come. The potential of the club is enormous, and if we can broaden our horizons and look beyond the UK, it could be very exciting indeed!

Rich Speight says...

I am not comfortable with the multinational ‘Group’ model of football club ownership.

Indeed, in many respects, it's the antithesis of the ideal - a football club owned and run for the benefit of the local community.

How would we feel if a foreign club - let’s say one of the Italian giants - had stepped in and bought out Ellis Short or Stewart Donald in order to turn League One Sunderland into a feeder club for their main enterprise?

CA Rentistas may be a relatively small outfit, but they’ve got a long history and will mean a lot to those loyal fans to whom they, ultimately, belong.

If purchased by KLD and Sartori, their club’s interests will always play second-fiddle to the interests of the wider “Group” and the “parent” club, transfers and financial decisions taken in order to maximise benefit to the English club where the money is to be made - and should it not work out, they’ll be disposed of.

I doubt many Sunderland fans will look at it this way, but I’d ask us to show a bit of empathy - to put ourselves in the shoes of their fans.

Take Melbourne City, for example. Have they seen the benefit of the “free transfer” to their parent club Man City of Aaron Mooy a few seasons back? He never played a game for Man City before being sold at a big profit to Brighton & Hove Albion.

This kind of deal has “colonialism” written all over it, and as much as it might well benefit Sunderland AFC in the short term, if the last few years have taught us anything it should be that the wider interests of the global football community are not served by everyone trying to imitate the business models of the state-owned Super League brands.

Joseph Tulip says...

Given the clear ambitions and international connections of our ownership, such a development wouldn’t be a surprise.

But I have to say that at this stage, it is not something that interests me in the slightest. We are only just starting to get our own house in order after the worst period in the history of SAFC and I’d much rather we focused on matters closer to home.

There may well be opportunities for growth, future investment and recruitment by going down this path, but I’ve never really thought it right for one football club to invest another in this way.

For the likes of Man City to do this, it always seemed a tad ‘big time’, even with them at the top end of the Premier League.

We’re still trying to get out of League One, and I’d like us to focus entirely on laying our foundations, rather than laden them with top-heavy projects which have no guarantee of success.

My approach might be old school, and perhaps I don’t have the expertise to fully appreciate the full extent of our owners’ credentials to make a success of this, but for now at least, I just want them to build on the current good work going on at our club, and not stray too big too soon.

Sunderland v Charlton Athletic - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images


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