STEVE Bruce, Niall Quinn and Ellis Short were today set for talks which will determine how the club proceeds in the transfer market this summer.
The meeting of minds in the wake of Sunderland’s top-half finish on Sunday follows a board meeting yesterday which evaluated where the club now stands in the wake of a momentous final day in the 2011/11 Premier League campaign.
In the course of 90 minutes at the weekend, Sunderland effectively became £3.2m richer than they had expected to be – the club pocketing that much in extra prize money as a result of leaping up the table from 14th to 10th.
And that will be just one of the factors that will need to be looked at as Bruce asks the owner to fund transfer activity which will allow the Black Cats to aim at improving on their league position next season.
Bruce told the Press on Sunday at Upton Park that he would push hard for big money from owner Ellis Short this summer as he looked to substantially rebuild a squad depleted by a string of long-term injuries and the return of four loan players to their parent clubs.
The first task of Bruce and Quinn has been to scour the list of Bosman signings available this summer, looking to save money for marquee signings further down the line.
But with the manager having identified two Bosmans in domestic football and one from abroad, attention will switch to what money is available to bring in the sort of players who will help Sunderland improve on a 10th place finish.
Bruce has drawn up a long list of potential targets but can expect to find out today what his potential budget is for the close season and which players will be available to him and which will be out of his range.
But the manager plans to make a strong case for a spending spree from the billionaire owner this summer, with the last day surge having stengthened Bruce’s hand.
He will be able to point out to Short that he has achieved the pre-season aim of finishing in the top half despite losing his star player midway through the season and then suffering an unprecedented catalogue of injuries.
He can also show that the club’s finances are safe in his hands – the improvement having been achieved without breaking the bank.
For while he has spent around £55m in his time on Wearside, he has recouped approximately £35m in transfers the other way.
And that means a relatively miserly spend of £10m a year in turning Sunderland from a side that finished just two points clear of relegation two seasons ago, into a top 10 side now.