Martin Bain believes Sunderland had a good transfer window – but admits ‘legacy payments’ on old signings continues to hamper them.
Fans have been critical of the lack of spending on Wearside this summer, with the Black Cats making a substantial overall profit following the sale of Jordan Pickford.
Bain, however, believes Sunderland have made crucial gains in improving the culture and identity of the playing squad and is confident that results on the pitch will begin to mirror that.
“I look at the transfer window as a success,” he told the Echo. “Leave the finances aside for a second, we sat down and we said, right, what kind of footballer do we want to bring to the club?”
“What is the right type of approach for us in terms of what the fans want to see, what the club needs and the identity of the type of the player?
“The two big words were hunger and desire.
“We’ve brought players to the club who, whether it be on loan or on permanent signings, have got a lot to prove. The loans that have come in, the younger ones, they’ve got an opportunity to play and to show their clubs that they’ve got something to offer. The slightly older ones who weren’t getting games at their clubs, they have that hunger to show their desire for success.
“Then we’ve had to look to players who we think we’ve got real value for money, and Aiden McGeady is a good case in point, a good piece of business for us.
“I fully recognise the point that we’ve sold players for large sums of money and not spent commensurately, but that’s for the reasons I’ve outlined with regards to where we are with the finances of the club and legacy transfer payments.”
Sunderland, who will have to pay another significant sum next summer for signings made in previous windows, will see their parachute payments decline over the next two years before they end entirely, should they not secure promotion.
Bain says preparing the club for that possibility has been an important factor in the club’s business this summer.
“When you consider the legacy payments and the loss of Premier League revenue, obviously, you get parachute payments which decline, so what you don’t want to do is spend what you may not have,” he said.
“We don’t want to be owner reliant so I have to take stock of the future, I don’t look at this year and spend, then next year and spend.”
Bain accepts that there will be frustration giving the spend of other clubs in the division, eager to recoup the Premier League TV revenue by investing heavily in the playing squad.
He said: “I absolutely get that. There’s the balance between being reckless in trying to achieve it and having a go to get the quality that will get you there.
“Where we are at in this moment, we have to get the footballing basics right, we need to get the environment right so we can then have a go.”
As the club continues to struggle with the impact of previous transfer decisions, Bain says he is taking steps to safeguard the club in future and improve their efficiency in the market.
“We’re just trying to be more conservative and diligent in terms of what it means for our future outlook. A lot of the legacy transfer fees that we’re paying are impacting the football club at the moment in terms of handcuffing our ability to do certain things,” he said.
“In terms of how we’re structuring club contracts going forward, it’s about protecting the club. I don’t like things in them, like for example an exit clause that allows a player to leave on a free. It’s just about having that constraint in terms of the structure.”
“Vito Mannone goes back to this case in point about how we’re trying to run the club. Vito is obviously a very good goalkeeper. He had a year left on his contract, which was going to run down, and Sunderland would have got nothing for him.
“The right thing was, and this is regardless of the other circumstances, to ensure that the club protected its investment and got some money for Vito. That’s what I mean about efficiency.”
Bain also moved to allay fears that Sunderland will be hurt financially by the decision to loan players this summer.
Fabio Borini and Jeremain Lens left for AC Milan and Besiktas respectively, but their wages are being covered in full and it is understood that their transfers becoming permanent is a formality.