Sunderland's financial results: Worrying returns again that highlight need for recruitment improvement

Sunderland made a 33 million loss in the 2015/16 season
Sunderland made a 33 million loss in the 2015/16 season
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Sunderland's accounts for the 2015/16 season follow the same pattern they have for a number of seasons.

Impressive income, bolstered enormously by TV money, swallowed up quickly by a significant and unsustainable wage bill.

This year, those wages amounted to almost 78% of the annual turnover. Again, a failure to make good returns on signings underpinned financial difficulties, accounting for a significant chunk of the £33 million loss.

Sunderland have a top 10 wage bill but the results have clearly shown that they do not get value for money.

Of course, this summer, everything changes.

The drop in TV money will be a brutal shock and will make cutting back the now £110 million debt an even greater challenge.

That fall in revenue will at least be off set by a significant parachute payment and a fall in the wage bill as high earners are sold and those who stay see clauses kick in that bring their salaries down to Championship levels.

The first payment will be worth around £44 million, declining rapidly in the following two seasons before the Black Cats are left to fend for themselves. When that happens, the EFL's stringent FFP regulations means the debt must be in control by then.

That makes clear how utterly crucial this summer must be.

Good returns must be made on prize assets such as Lamine Kone, subject of interest worth close to £20 million last summer. The profit made in January will also help in that regard, Sunderland getting an impressive £14 million for Patrick van Aanholt.

How that money is used is more important than ever.

The drop does at least allow an opportunity to tackle the chronic wage issues, but clearly the drop in turnover as TV money all but disappears poses major challenges.

Fundamental failures in recruitment explain much about Sunderland's Premier League struggles in recent years.

The mess left will take years to solve, as Ellis Short acknowledges, but buying better remains the number one priority for building a better future.

No one is under the illusion that bouncing back from the Championship will be an easy task. These latest accounts only serve to underline that.