Where we stand on any SAFC takeover
Reports emerged of fresh interest at the weekend. Here is where things stand at the moment, via Stu Rayner.
Football club takeover talks are usually long, drawn-out and secretive, and Sunderland’s position is particularly complicated. Be very wary when names become public. Those who look at the Black Cats’ books have had to sign non-disclosure agreements first, so loose talk could torpedo a deal altogether. If you think of most football club buyouts, you rarely find out the identity of the buyer long before he is through the door. Two of the biggest in world football – Roman Abramovich’s buy-out of Chelsea and Sheikh Mansour’s at Manchester City – were a case in point.To see the other side of the coin, look at the North East over the last 12 months. We were told in the autumn that Amanda Staveley was interested in buying Newcastle United – whether directly on behalf of others was not quite so clear – but the season is almost over and the Magpies are still waiting.Last summer it emerged there was a German consortium talking to Short about buying Sunderland, as were Fulwell 73. Neither happened. Deep down we all know the Black Cats are going to be playing in League One next season, but you would be mad to stake millions of pounds on something that is very likely to happen when you can wait a couple of weeks and find out for certain. Although the footballing side of League One is much lower budget, Sunderland are a club with a Premier League-size infrastructure and a Premier League-size debt. Going through the details of that, the operational costs and who owes what to whom is not something that should be done quickly. A lot of the borrowing is to reluctant current owner Ellis Short and while fans are quite rightly angry that he has turned the taps off this season when it comes to funding the squad, he has poured millions of his own money in over the years and is keeping the club afloat now while it haemorrhages huge amounts of cash. He is entitled to want some of that money back. Raj Singh broke cover before buying another debt-ridden North East club lower down the ladder in Hartlepool United, but it took a couple of weeks after that for the is to be dotted and the ts to be crossed. With all due respect to the Conference club, this takeover is on another scale. Relegation will mean a wage cut for those who have signed Sunderland contracts in the last 12 months, but not for those whose deals were agreed earlier. John O’Shea, Billy Jones, Marc Wilson and Kazenga LuaLua are out of contract at the end of the season but manager Chris Coleman revealed recently discussions about their futures have been put on hold. Talks are underway to try to extend the deals of two of the club’s most saleable assets, Josh Maja and Joel Asoro, beyond 2019, but they are stalling on them. More uncertainty.One of more would-be buyers may even want to arrive with a new manager to unveil to set the ball rolling. Add in the fact that most of the rumoured would-be buyers are consortia rather than rich individuals and you have another level of complication and negotiation to deal with. There will be some wealthy Sunderland supporters who will be desperate to help, but can they make the numbers crunch? As Coleman said recently, the club needs millionaires, not billionaires because of all that comes with it.For the supporters of any club in need of a new owner – and the Black Cats require one more than most – the silence is unbearable. Unfortunately, though, in many respects it is necessary.