Whenever a football club’s ownership situation goes through a period of change, there’s undoubtedly going to be a knock-on effect when it comes to the other important stuff.
What playing budget do we have to work with?
Which players can we make firm offers to?
Do our ambitions match those of players we’re both trying to sign and trying to retain?
What about our ability to expand our marketing department, our ability to buy in extra merchandise, and our ability to increase staffing levels in the club shop, the ticket office, Black Cat House, the Academy of Light, and everywhere in between?
It could well be that the budgets for this season have already been signed off by each of our shareholders and that none of this is an issue, but it does still make you wonder.
When the club announced the first team and U23s retained list on the 25th of May it was noted that new deals had been offered to the out-of-contract trio of Lynden Gooch, Bailey Wright and Patrick Roberts.
All three men jetted off on their summer holidays after the playoff final and will have undoubtedly enjoyed the time off that they’ve earned, but given that the squad are expected to return to the Academy of Light for the first day of pre-season in just nine days, this week must surely be the time to resolve the situations of each of them so that both the players and the club know where things stand once our Championship preparations get underway.
Lynden Gooch has been spotted at a training camp in Dubai with former teammate and Wigan’s unofficial chief scout Max Power, and press rumours have linked him with a move to Swansea City in recent days - it could be agent talk to try and drive his wage demands up, but it could also be that the Cali Kid is a man in demand.
What we don’t need is a protracted saga with any of these players - they all need to be in the door and training when pre-season begins, to ensure everyone gets off to the best possible start.
And what about new signings?
I can’t be the only one who has noticed that there has been a lack of talk around who we may or may not be targeting, and whilst that isn’t always a bad thing (and, personally, I prefer when we go about our business discreetly and get stuff done on the quiet), I do find it interesting that there aren’t many agents using Sunderland’s name to try and drive up interest in their players in the press.
Maybe that’ll ramp up over the next week or so.
Club needs to know what budget they have … and sort this takeover theatre … https://t.co/uNVduyuWia— Alan Nixon (@reluctantnicko) June 9, 2022
My Roker Report marra Chris Wynn mentioned in private the other day that he wanted to buy his son some Sunderland merchandise for his birthday but couldn’t, because the club’s online shop is so badly stocked.
It was a farce in the build-up to Wembley, and the club missed out on some serious money when it came to the sales of replica kits, but while that’s in the past, wouldn’t it be nice to learn what kits we’re going to be playing in next season, so that keen fans can pre-order and snap up theirs ahead of the new season starting?
New signings for next season’s U23s have been pictured holding last season’s kit, for example - it’s only a small thing, but these things do matter to some of us.
It seems like we’re lagging behind other clubs on that front too, but maybe I’m wrong.
Either way, I think we could use some good news in the coming days, and the launch of our new strips would be a timely distraction from the ownership baloney.
✍️ We are pleased to announce the signing of Michael Spellman, who will join up with our Under-23 squad following a successful trial period.— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) June 10, 2022
Our pre-season match schedule was finally announced last week, but we still don’t know who we are playing in that second game in Portugal - and fans making the expensive trip to the Algarve will not only want to know who we’re playing, but will want to snap up their tickets. Some movement on that front wouldn’t go amiss!
And likewise, when it comes to ticketing - it feels like after an initial push following the playoffs, we’ve barely promoted the sale of season cards across the club’s social media channels.
With that in mind, it’s time to get aggressive, it’s time to get creative and it’s time to really drive up the hype around next season - we need as many supporters in that ground next season as we can get. Admittedly, it’s not always an easy sell to casual supporters when you’ve got negative vibes around potential new owners floating about.
Still, it’d be great to see a proper rampant campaign targeting supporters young and old, selling them the dream and getting them to buy into the club’s vision for next season. After all, we all want the same thing - a united, forward-thinking, vibrant football club geared up to take on the Championship next season and compete to the best of our ability.
I know, I know... you’re probably reading this and think that I’m nitpicking - I know that they’re not just sitting on their hands, waiting around - but it would be nice for once if the club could appear to be on the front foot right across the board.
These next nine days or so before the players and coaching staff return to the club’s training base could be fairly crucial to how well prepared we are ahead of what will be an incredibly difficult season back in the second tier.
Let’s dot the i’s, cross the t’s, and crack on. There’s plenty of work to be done.