Why lack of Sunderland takeover might not be a bad thing this summer

The proposed takeover at SAFC does not appear to be likely to materialise in time to provide more scope to Sunderland’s player recruitment ahead of the new season, if at all, writes Kevin Bell.

Monday, 15th July 2019, 1:45 pm
Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald.

Like most fans I was disappointed the investment has not happened. This may not be the worst outcome in the short term however.

I can understand why there are a number of parties interested in investing in SAFC.

The club has magnificent support, as borne out by season ticket sales in excess of 23,000, a superb stadium and training facilities.

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The club’s current status as a League One team merely emphasises the potential growth for anyone looking to be involved.

The expectation of any new ownership at most clubs is that they allow for significant outlay on players and, if not, risk becoming a piñata to be knocked until yielding signings.

A not uncommon result of this is a club saddled with players who joined for all the wrong reasons. Individuals whose refusal to look at themselves in the mirror is only partly due to a lack of moral rectitude but also that, being vampires, they have no reflection.

Whilst I am keen for Sunderland to have the option of spending more money than they do at the moment, I am not convinced that doing so is necessary to be successful next season.

The club spent plenty last season and still lost out on promotion. Doing the same again offers no more guarantee of success.

Last season’s squad lacked certain attributes, as encouragingly acknowledged by Jack Ross last week, namely pace and strength.

The addition of these qualities should not necessitate big spending. The arrival of Jordan Willis, a player reputedly possessed of both, for no fee being a good example of what can be done.

A year ago the club found themselves in a dash to assemble a squad before the season started. This season the changes required are more nuanced. The task now is to augment the squad and address the shortcomings which meant automatic promotion was not achieved.

It is more important that SAFC establish a more effective recruitment process than it is they spend more money.

The continuity of ownership should help to ensure lessons are learned. Sunderland find themselves in League One in the first place due to a previous regime’s willingness to spend rather than learn.

If things go well this season the imperative will then shift more towards the need to seek investment.

New owners understandably also tend to prefer their own managerial appointments and another possible upside to the takeover not yet having proceeded is the current owner’s faith in Jack Ross.

The Scot has his critics and the last campaign was ultimately frustrating. However Ross got enough right, under far greater scrutiny than any other manager in the division, to warrant his being granted the opportunity to continue.

I still hope SAFC secure the investment to allow the club to re-establish their credentials as a Premier League team but, for now, know how is a more important asset.