Sunderland AFC takeover is ‘well-timed,’ says city business expert

Professor Lawrence Bellamy.
Professor Lawrence Bellamy.

Sunderland AFC’s takeover has come at the perfect moment, says one of the region’s leading business experts.

The Black Cats announced at the weekend that owner Ellis Short had agreed to sell the club to a consortium led by Eastleigh FC chairman Stewart Donald, subject to Football League approval.

Well before the next season starts, the uncertainty of ownership transfer has been removed. As a bonus, the debt removal agreement will mean that the worry of debt servicing and more immediate financial security has also been dealt with.

Prof Lawrence Bellamy

The Texan billionaire has also undertaken to write off the club’s entire debt £100million-plus debt.

Manager Chris Coleman and his deputy Kit Symons have left the Stadium of Light. No new manager has yet been named and first team coach Robbie Stockdale will be in the dug-out for Sunday’s visit of Wolves.

It will be a clash of top versus bottom, with the champions celebrating promotion back to the Premier League while Sunderland fans are facing the prospect of only the club’s second ever season in the third tier.

But Prof Lawrence Bellamy, Academic Dean for the Faculty of Business, Law and Tourism at the University of Sunderland, said the timing of Sunday’s announcement would help to maximise the chances of the Black Cats bouncing back into the Championship at the first time of asking: “The sale of Sunderland AFC is well-timed,” he said.

“Well before the next season starts, the uncertainty of ownership transfer has been removed. As a bonus, the debt removal agreement will mean that the worry of debt servicing and more immediate financial security has also been dealt with.

“Overall the arrangement looks to be very manageable.

“New ownership and new management will bring with them fresh ideas and optimism. Any business depends upon great preparation and strong execution and so the right psychology is essential.

“In football, then, perhaps a larger degree of luck is involved than in other industries, but planning, preparation, investment and sheer hard work pay-off anywhere.

“So for Sunderland AFC, it’s likely to feel like a new start, where they can consider their future challenges, rather than dwell on the problems of the past.

“Some ‘quick wins’ on and off the pitch will help to set off down the right track.”