SUNDERLAND owner Ellis Short is a huge supporter of the club’s Academy, and even turned up unannounced to watch an Under-21 game at Chelsea from the sidelines recently.
The Texan might not make a song and dance about his ownership of the Black Cats but insiders talk of how he has immersed himself in every aspect of the club he presides over.
Two anecdotes delivered by Ged McNamee make it clear that the Academy is at the forefront of Short’s thinking. First of all, his huge interest in the youth teams extended to taking time out from his busy schedule to watch Sunderland’s youngsters at Cobham last week.
Secondly, he recently helped three scholars who were released by the club to find places at university in America because he believed their “loyalty to Sunderland” should be rewarded with help and advice.
McNamee says: “He’s a great supporter of the Academy which is great for me and for all the people involved in it.
“Recently, the Under-21s played at Chelsea and he was at the game. He wants to know. He has an interest in it, he knows that it’s a valued element of the club and hopefully we can find some more Jordan Hendersons and Jack Colbacks.
“From a financial aspect it helps the club because then they’re not having to pay millions to bring in players from a distance. Obviously if you have a Jordan Henderson and you do sell him on, it’s profit.
“He’s very hands-on and that’s been fantastic for us. With EPPP there’s got to be a willingness there from the club to say we want to be Category One. To achieve that we had to get the indoor building and he was a big part of that.”
Short is a man of actions rather than words and his help for a crop of released Sunderland youngsters should impress Black Cats supporters.
“People might not know, but three lads who were with us last year are now on scholarships overseas and Ellis has helped them with great support to achieve that,” McNamee said.
“These three boys who have gone to America had been in the Academy a long time and he felt that this was the right thing to do.
“They have given us a lot of commitment and we’d had support from their parents over the years and he just felt that it was the right thing to do.”