In December 2009 when billionaire Ellis Short took over full control of Sunderland AFC it should have been the start of something special. However, in the nine years since we’ve seen Short knows very little about football, made mistake after mistake and now, simply does not care about the club.
Last summer Short made his first real efforts to sell Sunderland following relegation from the Premier League. Just when it looked like a German consortium would become new owners, Short pulled the plug on the deal because it was ‘not in the best interests of the club.’ Given the current situation we find ourselves in, this move from the American was nothing short of disgraceful. The blaring truth behind this is that deal was not in the best interest of Short, who put himself before the club. Yesterday he made the move of slashing his asking price to just £50 million. A steal for a modern day football club who were in the Premier League just one year ago. The move stinks of desperation and reinforces the little care he has left for Sunderland.
Ultimately Short’s time at Sunderland will be remembered as a catastrophe. If relegation from the Premier League wasn’t enough to be remembered badly by, relegation to League One would leave his time on Wearside a disaster. To me, the worst thing about the Ellis Short era at Sunderland is the amount of missed opportunity. With the right manager and the right people around him, Sunderland and Short could have easily become a big player in the Premier League. The money was available, the chances were there, but in the end, only mistakes were made. The failure to properly invest in good talent while in the Premier League cost Sunderland the chance of becoming a staple of the league and as Short said himself, he wanted us challenging for the top six, so why miss this opportunity? Ellis Short may try make out like he cares, or even loves Sunderland AFC, and while his money (as we’re constantly reminded by Martin Bain) may still being paying the bills, purchasing a football club was nothing more than a fun game for him that has turned into a nightmare.
The mistakes Short has made in the past years with managerial appointments, higher level appointments and lack of investment has crippled to the club into the state it finds itself in today. However rather than standing up and taking accountability for his actions, he ran away back to the comforts of America, leaving the club in the hands of Martin Bain and another relegation. Cowardly.
The reason Sunderland find themselves bottom of the Championship, awaiting League One is the fault of no one else but Ellis Short. The proof of this is in former managers. Previous Sunderland bosses Roy Keane, Paolo Di Canio and Sam Allardyce have all spoke out against Short and cited him and him alone for troubles at the club. Something which cannot be ignored.
The fact is, Sunderland AFC is a shell of the club they were when Short took over. Since taking control he has drained the life from the club, brought in and sacked countless managers, let star players leave for the half the price they were brought in, emptied the once energetic Stadium of Light and abandoned his sinking ship faster than a rat on the Titanic. As Chris Coleman recently said, until Sunderland finds a new owner, we are where we are. With any luck the new asking price will attract someone stupid enough to attempt to save this club, but because of his actions over the last nine years the name Ellis Short will always be remembered negatively at Sunderland AFC.