The Piss Taking Is Over!

Charlie Methven has warned agents that the “piss-taking party is over” at Sunderland. Agent’s fees had accounted for in excess of £4m over the last couple of transfer windows. A staggering amount given we’ve only spent £1.25m on player transfers. Methven now insists that the days of taking SAFC for a ride are done: “This isn’t going to be a free ride any more”, explained Methven. “If agents come knocking thinking they can add an extra 10-20% on what they are asking for because it’s Sunderland... then those agents will be sent packing, and they’ll have done a really crappy job for their players because they’ll have lost the chance to play for the best club ever to play at this level. We are going to have to be very hard and very clear to act in the best interests of this football club. The reputation of Sunderland in the game is that this is a place where people have come to take the piss, and I am sorry to say but that is the truth. That has been the case for quite some time. People have come here not because they passionately want to be here, but because they’ve heard this is a place where you’ll get paid really well; not very high expectations; a pretty easy going culture, etc. That has to change.”

It seems the agents of certain players have had their say, with some already approaching the new owners to let them know their client (or cash cow) wants out. Methven reckons he’ll wait to hear it from the horse’s mouth first. He said: “Stewart is absolutely right in saying that agents will say things and claim things that aren’t necessarily what a player will say when they are sat opposite with you. But until this point we haven’t been able to sit down with a player. We’ve had agents contact us before we even became owners saying players want to leave, well I’d rather hear that from a player and then we’ll deal with an agent. Agents have played far too big a role in this club, some of the payments have been eye-watering and really not on, I would say. It’s a nature of things when you’ve got an absentee owner, there’s been countless occasions of people not treating the club’s money properly. We know what players should be earning at this level. We understand League One, the appropriate pay level at the top of that league. We’re certainly not very keen on the idea that there should be a premium to come and play for Sunderland. Maybe there should be a premium to play for some no-mark club but not to come here. People should want to come here for the academy, the crowd, to play alongside better players. There shouldn’t be a premium and that is the message that agents will be hearing loud and clear.”

Quality Control...

Despite a few rumours kicking about that Steward Donald likes to have more of a say in transfers he insists that, once a new manager is appointed, he won't stick his nose in when it comes to recruitment. He also reckons it will be beneficial if any new boss has a bit of lower league experience. “The manager will recruit the players, that will be his call", explained the new owner. "We have a recruitment team and there will still be a recruitment team who works with him, but there will be no interference from Charlie or I. It would be good if he’s been successful in lower leagues, that would be good. But it needs a cultural change, the standards have got to be really high when you go round the Academy of Light and I’ve gone in there. If you’re a young footballer, or any kind of footballer and you wander in there as a League One footballer, we’ve got to make sure people don’t think they’ve arrived and all their hard work is done. The standards that the football club should set, should be absolutely top drawer, it should be 100 per cent effort."

On The Ball...

In other news, the new regime have moved quick to ensure the likes of SAFC legend Kevin Ball have a more hands on role and is not just used to do the dinners. A move that will go down well with most supporters. Methven explained: “I don’t knock everything that the current management have done, but I don’t understand the Kevin Ball situation. A man in the prime of his career who has achieved phenomenal things - the England captain and goalkeeper coming through his youth team - wandering around doing club dinners at the age of 51-52, that’s just not right. That guy is absolutely in the prime of his coaching career, but we’ll be sitting down with Kevin and discussing a more proactive role because we’ve had meetings with him already and we like what we see.”

​​Gone Wild...

Meanwhile, as the race to secure a new manager hots up, Chris Wilder is officially out of the running after signing a new deal at Sheff Utd: He said: “After lengthy discussions with both owners, I am delighted and proud to carry on leading Sheffield United forward in a positive manner, as we have previously shown in the last two seasons. I am confident we can concentrate fully on on-field issues, we are very much looking forward to pre-season and adding quality reinforcements to our squad in an attempt to build on our performance last season."

... In a similar vein we’ve been warned off an approach for Bolton’s Phil Parkinson: “There has been some speculation linking Phil with other jobs and I can completely understand why given the excellent and outstanding job he has done with us. What I will say is that Phil is under contract with Bolton Wanderers Football Club and he is the right man for the job in hand. We will not entertain any enquiries for him whatsoever and hopefully the size of any potential compensation package would be sufficient to dissuade any approaches.”