Karren Brady's verdict on Ellis Short - and the irony of his Sunderland ownership

Ellis Short
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West Ham United vice-chairman Karren Brady says she has 'sympathy' with Sunderland owner Ellis Short and believes he has tried very hard to satisfy the club's fans.

Short is coming under increasing criticism as the Black Cats fight against relegation to League One.

A decade under the American has seen Sunderland slip into huge debt as well as finally bow out of the Premier League after numerous close shaves.

Short is now based back in the US, leaving the running of the club to Martin Bain, and Brady, writing in her column for The Sun, says it is ironic that a businessman who built his fortune on investing in distressed real estate assets now has one of his own on his hands.

"No doubt Ellis Short is a good businessman," she wrote. "His years as owner of Sunderland must disappoint him.

"Indeed it must have been as frustrating to him as those fans who wondered just how many lives their cats could have near the dustbin of the Premier League before finally, nine months ago, being slung out of the back door.

"I have a good deal of sympathy for Short. It is not easy to battle against the tidal pull of relegation.

"And, while swapping management seats in the equity fund he built would be, for him, a relatively straightforward task, doing it in a football club is an entirely different experience.

"He tried very hard, I’m sure, to satisfy the supporters, those tens of thousands of faithful Mackems. On Saturday (against Ipswich), with 27,909 in the stands, they drew the fourth-highest attendance in the division.

"There are so many traps new owners have to dodge, a book could be written. In the flush of having your very own Premier club, you have to reject paying long contracts with huge wages.

"Oh, yes, I’ve been there. Your team goes down and the player insists that you stick to his contract — in the case of Jack Rodwell, £70,000 a week.

"And sacking a sound manager after a bad run may work a little miracle for a few weeks.

"But if the playing staff has holes in it, the miracle soon grows weary and you’re where you were before — needing repairs to be made by a new man.

"Short has gone from the chief who wanted all the answers the day before yesterday to one who has left his £50million home in Chelsea to live in Florida where he can’t often be reached.

"It is ironic that he built his fortune by investing in distressed real estate assets because that’s very much what the Stadium of Light is at the moment."