I live “darn sarf”, and I’m not on social media, so maybe I can look at the present situation at SAFC with a detached eye.
I enjoy reading Giles Mooney’s blogs, he makes accountancy, one of the dismal sciences, sound almost interesting (ish). We can examine the accounts of SAFC all we like, but the truth of it is, that no matter what the owners do, so long as it is not illegal, it’s not the business of the fans. The fans are not the owners, they are the customers, if they don’t like how the club is being run, then stop supporting it. Now I know football and some other things don’t quite work like that, but actually, that’s how it is. Giles says that you could value the club at anything between £7 million and £37 million, depending on what loans remain outstanding. Stewart Donald said last Thursday that the club will be sold debt free, so we have therefore to go back to the £37 million figure. Have the owners put in £37 million? Were parachute payments used to buy the club? Were parachute payments used to stabilise the club? Were parachute payments part of the deal and negotiation with Ellis Short? We don’t know. Does it matter? Not really, because whomever comes in will make their own valuation based on what they see during due diligence, and will make an offer. Or not. No matter how you look at it, if the offer price is £37 million debt free or £6.8 million debt encumbered, it’s still a £37 million commitment.
How much is SAFC worth? The club has assets, the main ones being the stadium and the academy. The stadium cost, including increasing the capacity to 49,000, was £23million in 2000 money, roughly £39 million in today’s money. It’s obviously had a lot of use since then, but it does bring in money from concerts and other events, like weddings, and I bet it would cost a lot more than £39 million if it was being built today to the same specification. A Category 1 academy with a history of producing international talent? £5 million? What else are the owners selling? What we do have is “potential”, in the case of SAFC, a lot of “potential”. The lot up the road are allegedly worth north of £300 million, 8 or 9 times our asking price. This is because they are in the, “show me the money” Premier League, and even they have potential, they could become a Champions League club. (Note to God, please, no! If you allow this, I may be visiting you sooner than you thought). Buyers in all businesses look at this, proper business management, shrewd investment, sensible cost savings, in our case improvement on the pitch, which will inevitably mean getting rid of the totally unsuitable Phil Parkinson, and a bit of momentum. All this will realise potential and hence value, there is not a lot of point in buying a business if you can’t increase its value. Is the club today worth £37 million? I’d say so, if someone with big cojones, a properly thought out plan, a team that could carry out that plan, and sufficient finances, then there’s a lot of money to be made, if they got us back to the Premiership £37 million would be seen as a steal!
Let’s look at it from the owner’s point of view. Say their liability is £37 million, are they going to accept £25 million? Highly unlikely. Stewart Donald is rich, but not rich enough I suspect, that he could sustain that kind of a hit. You then end up with a situation like them up the road, where the deeply unpopular owner digs in, puts just enough in so that things don’t get any worse, and waits. It seems to have worked for Mike Ashley, because even if the Saudi deal doesn’t go through, Amanda Staveley will find someone in the end, she’s too committed. (Amanda, if the deal falls through there’s a nice man, 12 miles down the road, who has a club which is very similar, but much cheaper and much nicer.) But if the owners want to move thing on, they are going to have to do something. Revolting fans and League 1 does not make a sale easy.
What should we fans do? Forget the money, it’s really a red herring as far as we are concerned, what’s going happen with that, is going to happen. SAFC is not a listed company, therefore we don’t have any right to demand to know what’s going on financially, what would your boss say if you asked to look at last years accounts? Reply, two words, one with four letters, one with three. What we should be doing, is pressurising the owners to get us out of League 1, which will help get them out of the door. With the present manager, I suspect a fourth year in League 1 beckons, Parkinson has a win ratio of 36%, Jack Ross’ win ratio was 50%, and we fired him! Parkinson has got to go. We need tell the owners we want a manager who knows what he is doing, can attract the right players and can inspire them to do bigger and better things, get us out of this bloody league, I don’t ever want to go to Gillingham again. What we don’t want is the cheapest option.
What to do to get things moving? For the owners, the easiest way would be to get the club into the Championship. First job Stewart, get a proper manager. With a manager who knows what he is doing, has some tactical nous, has some charisma, has a team assembled from upper league loan players and shrewd bargain buys, rapid progress can be made for not a lot of money. We are in League 1 for God’s sake, a club like ours should be easily able to attract a manager and players to get us to the next level, we are the mighty Sunderland for fuck’s sake! We’ve got a 49,000 seater stadium, we’ve got a Category 1 academy, and given something decent to support, we’ve got 49,000 or more arses to sit on those seats! Then Stewart, you would get your £37 million, and you will probably get more, because we fans would be back in our droves to watch a team playing football and winning.