SUNDERLAND owner Ellis Short wants to make the club a permanent fixture in the Premier League top 10.
The American believes high-profile stability is the key to the Black Cats’ development in future years and says if that target can be achieved, then the club will have the platform from which it can really mix it with the league’s pacesetters.
“There is a lot of pressure, not just to stay in the Premier League, but to improve,” he said.
“We are not happy with finishing 13th, we are not happy at all, but we realise that you need steady progress, you need continual progress.
“You don’t want to finish seventh twice in a row and get relegated the next season, which has happened in the past.
“We do feel like now with Martin and with the progress we have made, we are well-positioned.
“We want to be well within the top 10 – we certainly can’t promise that, but we are not happy with where we are and we do want to continue to improve.
“There is huge pressure to do so, both from the fans and their expectations and also just from the sheer size of the economics that are involved in the Premier League.”
Short will rely on O’Neill to oversee the immediate task of getting the club a top-half-of-the-table finish next season and has promised to do all he can to back his manager in the market.
He said: “Martin and I have been talking all summer long about what we are going to do.
“The fans have a pretty good idea of what we need to do and everybody has a pretty good idea of what we need to do, so now Martin is looking at specific players that we might want, and then there will be a lot of work and then trying to get those players here.
“But we don’t want to sign players just for the sake of signing them, or because it feels like they are inexpensive for some reason.
“We want to identify players who are good and who will definitely improve us, and try to bring them in.”
Short was speaking during the rarest of media appearances, launching the club’s innovative new sponsorship deal with Invest for Africa, an organisation backed by London-based oil company Tullow Oil, which aims to promote business opportunities on the continent.
Short said: “Commercially, this is a good deal for us, but more importantly than that, it expands our presence, it expands our fan-base potentially.
“In the modern world of football, we are going to be living with financial fair play, so our spending will be limited by what we bring in.
“The Premier League is a global business watched by billions worldwide. The reason that the TV revenues are so high and continuing to grow is a reflection of the fact that all these people globally watch it.
“To thrive going forward, we need to be able to grow revenue, and to grow it locally doesn’t make any sense.
“This is where our fans are, this is by far the most important area for us, but even the UK with 60million people isn’t enough when you are looking at TV revenue generated by billions.
“Africa, as has been said many times today, is a very fast-growing continent with 300 million people watching Premier League matches.
“If we can become a very popular team on that continent, it’s probably better than being the 100th most popular team in the richest economy in the world.”