Ellis covers Sunderland’s Short-fall

Sunderland Football Club owner Ellis Short.
Sunderland Football Club owner Ellis Short.
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SUNDERLAND’S reliance on owner Ellis Short has again been highlighted after the club announced a hefty annual loss.

The Black Cats last night confirmed net operating losses of £26.9million for the year ending July 31, 2012, although that was a reduction of £4.3m on the previous year’s figures.

Sunderland’s total turnover for the 12-month period was £78m, with operating expenses – including the club’s wage bill – falling from £110.7m the previous year, to £104.9m.

But worryingly, the figures don’t include more than £30m manager Martin O’Neill has since splashed out in the transfer market on Adam Johnson, Steven Fletcher, Alfred N’Diaye and Danny Graham.

The loss will be covered by Short, who opted not to cash in on Sunderland’s prize assets last summer, rather than easing the burden on his own pocket.

Chief executive Margaret Byrne said: “Our results reflect a period where we embarked on a programme of continued investment in the playing squad, choosing to retain the services of those players that the manager identified as key to the team.

“We also invested significantly in our Academy in order to secure EPPP Category One status and give us the best possible chance to develop young players for the future.

“Our net operating loss has reduced slightly and we are continuing to implement a structured financial plan to ensure sustainability for the future.”

The figures don’t come as a huge surprise.

Byrne told the Echo last month that Sunderland were expecting to announce a big loss and stressed the club’s reliance on Short for new signings.

But the accounts do stress the importance of Sunderland remaining in the Premier League and cashing in on the new television deal.

The share of more than £5billion to Premier League clubs in the new contract will go towards paying off Sunderland’s debts and ensuring they become sustainable in the long-term.