Sunderland AFC has a very short, urgent to do list. Two things need to happen. Sadly, they’re both pretty big things.
1: Finish The Takeover
There are three times when business deals collapse. Straight after the offer, during the due diligence and very near completion.
The first two times can happen for a whole range of reasons, but the final stage failures only ever happen for two reasons, greed of one of the parties or lack of money. While the Campbell deal is alleged to have collapsed when he had to write a cheque, I think we can rule out that being the issue this time. That only leaves someone deciding to change the price or refuse to accept responsibility for paying for a particular cost as the reason for the current delay.
There will always be various bits and pieces that, during the review of the club, arguments will lead to the price being adjusted. If the deal was, say, £40m and then it was discovered Grigg money was owed to Wigan, the deal might move to £38m. Once the purchasers heard about Alvarez they probably wanted a little more off the price.
For this deal to have reached the stage where companies and directors are registered at the Stadium, it’s very close to being done, so the only possible answer to it not being over the line is that the Americans are being irritating or we are. Who knows which it is, but if the deal fails at this stage, no amount of free computers or hanging with fans at away games will see the guilty party forgiven.
While the parties remain apart, the whole club is on hold. Nothing will improve, nothing can change, contracts have to wait, development plans can’t develop. Job one for the club has to be to get the deal over the line and whichever side is causing the problem, I beg them to think about the club and the fans and look for compromise.
Perhaps the cost being debated is to do with the second thing that needs to be done.
2: Makeover The Football Side Of The Club
What follows isn’t a Ross out rant. I actually have a lot of time for the bloke. I just think he’s horribly out of his depth, hasn’t been supported properly and is now in an impossible holding situation.
Replacing Ross (which I think is essential to move forwards) is only helpful if the whole football side of the club is looked at. Our recruitment has been woeful and that has to lie at the desks of Hill and Coton. The idea that replacing the manager will solve all ills is insane. It’s like having a piece of jigsaw that doesn’t fit and taking another piece from an entirely different jigsaw and putting it in. Whatever happens, the picture still won’t be right.
I’ve written previously about directors of football and more experienced managers who could oversee the whole football side of the club. I think it’s essential but I’m not sure how soon it can happen.
I suspect that the wholesale makeover can’t happen until the takeover is completed. And I suspect everyone knows it’ll happen at that point. That means we have players listening to a manager every Saturday who they know won’t be in charge in the very near future. Players who will have another manager to impress and work for. No matter how professional you try to be, you’ll never perform at 100% in those circumstances. Ross probably knows it too. He’s a dead man walking. Perhaps that’s affecting his work, there certainly seems to be confusion in roles and even team selections which weren’t there before. The truth is they’re all counting down the days until the deal is done.
Of course, what that really means is that there’s one thing to do, not two. The takeover has to be completed. I’m sure people are working hard to get it done but, if it’s drifting it needs to be pulled back, if one side is holding it up, they need to reach out to find an answer and if it’s not happening, we need to make new plans because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the whole club is waiting and if we wait much longer another season will be finished and we won’t be where we need to be.