Tony Gillan: Supporters left in limbo as Black Cats serve up a massive helping of uncertainty
Sunderland AFC were unusually candid last week.
I say unusually not because they habitually tell their supporters fibs, but because they tell them nothing – then expect them to buy season tickets.
Now, little more than six weeks from the new season, they have failed to appoint a new manager. The reason for this is uncertainty over the club’s ownership.
They confirmed something that we all knew anyway: Ellis Short is trying to sell the club.
The statement included: “With this backdrop, we have been unable to give the assurances any potential candidate would need regarding the plans a new owner could have for the manager’s position.
“The recruitment process, whilst still very much active, cannot therefore be concluded imminently.”
The identity of the most likely bidder confined in reports to “a German group”. This could be BMW, Baader-Meinhof or Kraftwerk.
However, I think credit is due to the club for telling us what they can. Certain particulars must remain confidential for now.
No one expects every detail, so the issuing of this general outline is welcome.
But it isn’t reassuring. Derek McInnes is staying at Aberdeen because of a complete absence of certainty – and who could blame him?
The statement continued: “We are, of course, acutely aware of the need to act swiftly to appoint a manager and to ensure that this is the case, have placed a time limit on discussions regarding a potential sale.
“If discussions are not concluded within our defined timeframe, we will terminate the process and move swiftly and positively forward with plans for the new season.”
That part does not ring true somehow.
The inference is that if these Germans lads don’t make their move pronto, then they will be told to forget it and Sunderland will then leap into a decisive, albeit tardy manoeuvre.
But if SAFC have given a timescale of, say, 10 days and an acceptable offer is made in three months’ time – would it be turned down? I very much doubt it.
The reality therefore would seem to be that any new manager will be presented with the same uncertainty that McInnes was until the club is sold.
Nobody at present knows if and when that will happen.
Perhaps because of the largely unexplained (some corporate jabbering notwithstanding) round of sackings and brutal pay cuts for “ordinary” club staff, things are falling about round the club’s ears in other areas too.
It took until last week for a decision to be reached on the price of season tickets (don’t worry, you have until 5pm on Wednesday to decide if you need direct debit).
Further up the money tree, executive box holders have been given even less time to decide upon renewal.
To the surprise of no one on earth, and adding to this world record for sustained clanger-dropping, is the ruling that £9m must be stumped up to Inter Milan for the “services” of Ricky Álvarez.
(That particular stunning piece of business was conducted in 2014 under the legal wizardry of Margaret Byrne. Enjoy your £750,000 pay-off, Mags).
The club is in limbo, there is huge debt, no manager, an urgent need to recruit decent players and get rid of some indecent ones – and the fixture list is out on Wednesday.
I don’t suppose the introduction of a new home shirt that Timmy Mallett wouldn’t be seen dead in has added much by way of joie de vivre.
How jolly. All we need now are reports of subsidence beneath the West Stand and I think we’ll have the set.
But do you know what? I’m still looking forward to the new season. That’s how stupid I am.