Martin Bain's greatest hits at Sunderland - all 'good' things come to an end

Martin Bain
Martin Bain
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As reported in the Echo last week, accounts put together before Ellis Short decided to autograph a ginormous cheque, showed that Sunderland Association Football Club Ltd was in a bit of a pickle.

The club confesses much on its website and is blunt about a further £9.9m loss, debt level up to £125.7m and wages-to-turnover ratio reduced to a still nauseating 66.8 percent.

The site put the club’s cards on the table. Well, most of them.

The information is freely available to the public through Companies House. However, presumably due to an innocent, soon-to-be-rectified oversight, has omitted to mention that their chief executive Martin Bain was paid £1,243,829 last year.

Relegation in 2017 meant many of the club’s non-playing and blameless staff members took significant pay cuts; if indeed they were not dispensed with altogether.

The exact size of the CEO’s salary reduction since July 31, 2017, which is where the accounts are up to, is yet to be revealed.

Mr Bain was appointed on July 1, 2016, following a season in which the team had managed a disgraceful six home wins. This couldn’t be allowed to continue.

What then are his achievements since?

The man himself would allude to fact that the club has continued to operate on a day-to-day basis. In other words, it still exists.

Only the grubbiest cynic would suggest that this is attributable to the outgoing owner lobbing his cash at the banks.

Mr Bain recently stuck to his guns for having the foresight to jettison goalkeeper Vito Mannone. The £2m garnered allowed real investment.

Quarter of it was spent on Jason Steele, who wouldn’t have been needed if Mannone had stayed – and we all love needing Jason Steele.

Mannone would definitely have made even more mistakes than Steele and the other two. Common knowledge.

His talents certainly wouldn’t have collected a bag more points that would have averted relegation. Out of the question and boo-hiss to anyone suggesting otherwise.

Anyway, this left £1.5m to spend on eight other players, who went on to justify that price tag.

Mr Bain is too modest to reel off his other greatest hits during his time on Wearside, so I hope he won’t be embarrassed if we do it for him.

When he arrived, Sunderland was an established Premier League club. But they didn’t do much while they were up there and things have since become much more dramatic. That’s entertainment.

He was almost the only person to appreciate the sterling efforts of the charismatic David Moyes. He could see qualities in the confidence-boosting manager that the less insightful could not; and would never sack him.

After Moyes, the general perception is that 2017-18 was the worst season in the club’s 139-year history. But Sunderland were the only team in the division not to lose to Wolves, which is all that matters.

Mass redundancies of people, whose jobs are now being done by less experienced replacements, were designed to put the club “in the best possible position to grow stronger.”

Mission accomplished or what?

Memorable PR triumphs include the February 2017 jolly to New York. Amid the announcement that dozens of mere mortals were to lose their jobs, the highly-motivated superstars of the playing staff were given a well-earned break across the pond.

This went down a storm with the fans. More so when the lads returned refreshed to Blighty and set about bagging five of the 39 points left to play for.

Alas, even these elite standards weren’t enough to stave off relegation. So in preparation for an even more notable succeeding season, the visit of Celtic was organised last July.

As you will recall, this was another roaring success. For those who couldn’t remember the visit of Rangers in 1993, it was a reminder of all that is good about traditional drunken, violent sectarianism. Living history on a perfectly charming summer’s day.

The Stadium of Light has also divested itself of concerts since Mr Bain arrived. The last one was by someone called Beyoncé in June 2016.

Good riddance. Who wants the likes of her when we can have Celtic? The same goes for those young yobbos the Rolling Stones, who won’t now be doing anything so vulgar as raising the revenue or profile of the city.

But Mr Bain’s main remit was the sale of the club and eradication of the debt.

Both have now been accomplished, although his undoubtedly pivotal contribution to these twin achievements has, like the size of his salary reduction, not been elaborated upon.

Despite all these glories, speculation is rife that he may soon leave. SAFC’s new regime, perhaps unable to meet even his negligible stipend, may have to survive without him.

We must be philosophical about this. All good things must come to an end.

If the gentleman must seek pastures new, then he surely departs with the resounding good wishes and appreciation of all Sunderland supporters.

Mr Bain himself has little to worry about. Prospective employers examining the most recent years of his curriculum vitae will be falling over themselves.