Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald admits Lee Cattermole and Bryan Oviedo staying at the club is 'bad news' for the Black Cats' finances.
Donald has revealed that Sunderland are still paying £11million a year wages to players who were at the club last year - plus £3million to the new players signed in the summer.
Cattermole and Oviedo are both believed to be on around £2million a year, while the likes of Adam Matthews, Aiden McGeady and wantaway duo Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong remain on the wage bill, although the latter two have yet to be paid this season after going AWOL.
With Sunderland understood to be still contributing a part of Lamine Kone's wages while he is out on loan, as well as some historic debts, Donald admits the money they are paying out is 'not sustainable' with the revenue they are bringing in as a League One club.
And while he praised Cattermole and Oviedo's professionalism and contribution, the majority shareholder admits the fact they are still at the club is causing financial issues. Donald said: “Financially, yes, it is bad news. And it is bad news. But that isn’t their fault.
“Bryan said at the end of the season he would look to move on and he’s come back, he’s on an awful lot of money.
“I read an article which said the average Championship wage is £8-9,000 per week, but when you are talking to people about wages you have a League One footballer who earns more than a Championship wage by some fair distance, they are difficult to manoeuvre on.
“When we came in we did a budget that said we would basically pay £10million in wages and we would have to spend £4million tidying up contracts because we had the Jack Rodwells, etc.
“The reality is we spent zero tidying up contracts but, worse than that, our wage bill is over because we haven’t been able to get rid of Ndong and Djilobodji and a couple of others. That’s bad news.
“Putting Djilobodji and Ndong to one side, with the rest of the squad I think we have got the wage bill down from £20million-odd to around £11million. We’ve managed to halve it.
"And the new squad has cost around £3million (in wages) to put together.
“In this league, £3million or £4million is a decent wage budget and £5million or £6million means you are at the top.
“We’ve spent that on new players, £3million-off, but we still have £11million in the existing squad and we haven’t got £11million in value.
“With League One revenue, that is not sustainable."
Donald admits that the January transfer window will be crucial for the club as they look to move on some of the high earners again and reduce their wage bill.
He added to the Roker Rapport podcast: “We’ve had one window, and in future windows we are going to have to tackle that. The problem is that it has left us almost no wriggle room.
“When January comes, it is going to be a challenge for us.
“Outside of Papy and Didier who have decided they don’t want to play for the football club, no player who is in the squad can be blamed for that at all.
“All we ask is they come in and earn their money, and that’s what they are doing.”