Sunderland will not be an easy sell for Ellis Short but a better outcome than last summer is absolutely crucial

Sunderland will at some point over the next month release their latest set of accounts, covering their final Premier League season.

They will underline the difficulty Ellis Short had in finding a buyer then, and still has to this day.

The Stadium of Light.

The Stadium of Light.

Despite seeing spending heavily reduced in that disastrous season under David Moyes, the accounts will almost certainly show another significant outlay on transfers from years previous, as well as an eye-watering wage bill.

Crucially, it will show an onerous, hugely significant debt, owed partly to Short and partly to a third party.

In the period that has followed that season, Sunderland have recouped some money in transfer fees and more than halved their wage bill.

They have also, however, seen their revenue decline dramatically.

Now that they face relegation to League One, they will have to face the overwhelming likelihood that they will not return to the Premier League before their three years of parachute payments comes to an end.

At that point, they will have to live with a decline in revenue of over £100 million in just over a quarter of a decade.

It goes without saying that such a scenario makes that debt a significant stumbling block.

The last set of accounts publicly released came with what now seem a number of ominous statements, none more so than the assertion that the biggest risk to the club would be ‘a significant period of absence from the Premier League’.

That now looks like a reality.

Short himself would likely negotiate on the terms of the debt owed to himself, money that could perhaps be partly recouped in the event of future success and promotions.

Whoever takes the club on, however, will have to get to grips with a bleak reality even before they weigh up what investment can be handed to Chris Coleman for his playing squad.

They will have to be able to sustain losses in the short-term, the kind that saw those last accounts describe Sunderland to be a ‘going concern due to the on-going support of the ultimate controlling party Mr Short,’

That context perhaps explains why so many parties have taken an interest in the club, but not found a satisfactory resolution.

It explains why Barnsley, for example, were recently deemed a more attractive prospect for investment, despite their vastly inferior facilities and significantly smaller fanbase.

Still, interest remains and on Wearside all cling onto the hope that a solution can be found swiftly.

Chris Coleman has made no secret that the need for investment and fresh ideas is absolutely vital to both his and the club’s future.

He has not been overly demanding, however, and his recent remarks demonstrate that he believes the club can bounce back on prudent terms.

It will not take a king’s ransom when it comes to buying players in League One. More important is holding onto to a promising, athletic group of young players, moving on those the manager does not want (most likely at a loss) and finding experienced campaigners who know the league and can produce consistently.

Money is crucial but it is not everything.

After all, the numbers we are talking would burn only a small hole in Short’s fortune, but he has seemingly lost the appetite and belief to spend it.

Coleman, and the ever-loyal Sunderland support, would happily accept missing out on Manchester City-style fortunes should they find a committed and engaged owner.

Clearly, a connection with and an understanding of the club, allied with the necessary financial capital, would be a significant bonus

In the club and outside it, caution is the order of the day. On numerous occasions there has been excitement at a potential deal, only for the prospect to fade away.

The wreckage of Sunderland’s time in the Premier League means that a swift resolution is anything but inevitable.

It will be another uncertain summer, but a better outcome is absolutely crucial.