Ellis Short interview: Everything the owner said on Sunderland's plight

Short has spoken to the club website in a rare interview
Short has spoken to the club website in a rare interview
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Ellis Short has spoken about a wide number of issues in a rare interview with safc.com

Here's what the Sunderland owner said on his long-term goals, takeover talk, sacking Simon Grayson and more.

On why he has spoken out now....

‘We’ve obviously got a bit of a crisis to solve right now. When things are going this poorly, lots of things become issues, maybe things which shouldn’t be. And supporters should that when a reporter talks about what I’m thinking or what I’m doing, he’s only guessing or making it up, because I don’t talk to the press. Right now the issue is the performance on the pitch and how we can turn things around. I thought that if I address some of these issues directly we can focus on that a little bit more.

On fan frustration...

"I think the frustration goes beyond just the relegation. Since I took over we’ve been in the Premier League for ten years, and although we weren’t always there in the greatest style, I as a fan always felt like we were fighting. Last season the way we got relegated was particularly frustrating because as a fan, I didn’t really feel like we had that fight. Getting relegated in last place was particularly galling, especially since in the second half of the season before we’d been quite good, I believe it was the half-season we’ve ever had.

"We went into last season on a bit of a note of optimism. Going into this season I as a fan and I think many of the fans were optimistic, and certainly expected better than what we’ve had so far.

On sacking Simon Grayson...

"I don’t have to explain the horrible start to the season we’ve had, actually the very start wasn’t so bad, but the stats speak for themselves. I don’t believe that squad of players belongs in the bottom three of the Championship.

"What’s worse is that it is not as if we’ve not been putting in good performances and just can’t get the ball in the back of the net, our goal scoring performance is towards the top of the league but we’ve given away more goals than all but one team, with many of the defensive players we had last season in the Premier League. That’s just not acceptable and our view at the club was that we needed to make the change. Simon is a very good man, he tried his best, we have a lot of respect for him, but we felt like we needed to try and make a change.

On his involvement at the club...

"I was very involved in that decision, it is an important decision. I talked with Martin about it, probably daily as things got bad. I know it is in the press that I don’t care anymore and don’t get involved but that’s simply not true, that’s reporters guessing or making something up. I’m as involved as I’ve been. It’s true that I’m not physically at as many games, which is really a function of being more involved with my business life and my family spending more time in the US.

"But I’m watching, I’m paying attention, and to answer the question you sing at me, mainly during the really bad games, yes, I’m watching. Also, I’m involved financially. I put a significant amount of new capital into the club this summer. Now that didn’t go in to buy new players, it went in to cover losses from our mistakes of the past.

On the potential summer takeover...

"At the time, I was entertaining offers to buy the club. I had hired an adviser to process that and I guess the first thing I should say is that everything that was written about that in the media is wrong, not really remotely resembling the truth other than one thing. There was one group that we did have some advanced discussions with. I decided not to do that transaction and I have heard some criticism that because of the depth of the emotion that I should be out that possibly I should have done that. But that comes from people who don’t know anything about the circumstances of that transaction, the circumstances of the buyer.

"I’ve got the interests of the club at heart and I’m not going to do anything that is not good for the club. I do understand that the fans want me out but I am certain that they would not have been happy with that transaction, and that is why it did not get done. Now, there is no longer an adviser, the club is not officially for sale. If there is a legitimate buyer that I can have a direct conversation with and it is a credible person, like probably any other owner of an English football team, I’ll have a conversation. But that doesn’t matter, what matters is what happens on the pitch and where we are in the table. I may or may not sell the club in the future, that’s not completely out of my control, but mostly it is out of my control. As long as I own it I’m going to be focused on what is good for the club, and the immediate focus is getting out of the situation we’re in now.

On his long-term goals at Sunderland...

"The first order of business is to get ourselves out of this problem, improve the performances and move up the table. After that, we need to continue to get stronger and get back into the Premier League as quickly as we can. This club belongs in the Premier League and that’s where we want to be.

"After that we’ll go back to my original goal when we were in the Premier League, and that is that we should be trying to finish seventh place every season. There are six clubs with revenues much higher than ours as a function of better sponsorship, much higher ticket prices, higher attendances but we should be fighting for that seventh spot. A good season, maybe fifth or six. A bad season? Maybe tenth or twelfth. That should be our long-term goal and to make it happen we need to ensure we don’t repeat all the mistakes we made in the past, of paying a lot of players who didn’t get us to where we wanted to be.

His message to fans...

"I’m a fan, I know how they feel, I know why they’re not happy. It would be great that if there was something I could say to make everything better but the reality is its not going to be better until we do better on the pitch. That’s the important thing and although I understand the frustration, I hope that all us can focus on that.