Dick Advocaat was right about one thing; the Sunderland squad does need rebuilding.
But he was wrong when he said the Black Cats might be better off being relegated from the Premier League this season in order to come back stronger.
Unless they bounced back at the first attempt, relegation to the Championship would be a financial disaster for Sunderland.
The figures speak for themselves; the club is currently around £140million in debt, Sunderland were £25million in the red for the 2014-15 financial year and funds for this January are limited.
The club is also close to the Financial Fair Play regulations cap for wages. And that’s with the bumper television deal that comes with being in the top flight.
Years of paying out for players but getting little back in sales – this summer, alone, just £6.5million was recouped for more than a dozen players shipped out – management upheaval and a high wage bill contribute to the club’s losses.
The biggest hit financially for relegated clubs would be the loss of the £100million in broadcasting revenue, which each top flight club receives as part of the new £5.1billion deal.
Championship clubs receive a fraction of that a season in TV money, currently around £3million.
As a result of the new deal Premier League clubs saw their coffers boosted to the tune of an extra £30million this season but that doesn’t go far in Sunderland’s case given the annual losses.
Parachute payments, paid over a three-year period – unless Sunderland were to bounce straight back – would ease the hefty blow.
But the handout pales in comparison compared to the money on offer in the Premier League for the same period.
So, in no scenario is it good news for Sunderland to be relegated to the second tier of English football.
Bottom-of-the-table Sunderland’s plight caught the imagination of former managers during the international break, with Martin O’Neill also quick to have his say.
The Republic of Ireland boss firmly disagreed with Advocaat, stating if you’re in the big league then do your hardest to stay there.
O’Neill added: “In terms of dropping down a division, you know what, you start dropping down divisions and there is no guarantee you’ll come back up – regardless of the money you spend.”
We asked readers who they agreed with; Advocaat or O’Neill?
Not surprisingly, an overwhelming 92 per cent of Sunderland fans agreed with O’Neill that relegation would be a disaster.
Advocaat had argued: “Maybe it’s better to go down, to build a new team like Newcastle who have a great club, a great fan base and a great stadium just like Sunderland.”
There are no guarantees Sunderland would bounce straight back, though.
The other problem is, Newcastle were able to totally revamp their squad into one capable of challenging for the Championship title by selling Georginio Wijnaldum to Liverpool for £25million and Moussa Sissoko to Tottenham Hotspur for a whopping £30million. A £40million profit just on those two.
Sunderland have two big assets; Lamine Kone – who Everton bid £18million for in the summer – and home-grown stopper Jordan Pickford. How much those two would be worth in the summer is up for debate.
But those two aside, the Black Cats have few other assets that they would be able to make a profit on should the worst happen.
The club would likely make a loss on Fabio Borini, Jack Rodwell, Wahbi Khazri and Papy Djilobodji should a firesale take place.
Would they realistically get the club record £13.6million fee back that they shelled out on Didier Ndong? Unlikely, you’d have to say.
After years of struggle and narrow escapes, it is clear the squad needs rebuilding.
But the best place to do that is in the Premier League.
This summer was a missed opportunity, not helped by Sam Allardyce’s late departure to England, which effectively paralysed the summer business, leaving new boss David Moyes with a matter of weeks to reshape the squad.
Victory over Bournemouth has sparked fresh hope of another survival bid ahead of Saturday’s home clash with fellow strugglers Hull City.
Advocaat was in tears on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium when his Sunderland side secured their Premier League safety at the end of the 2014-15 campaign.
There would be far more tears if Sunderland were to be relegated this season.
Staying in the Premier League is of paramount importance to SAFC.