NIALL Quinn insists Ellis Short is determined to give Sunderland the ‘leg-up’ needed to transform the club into a top ten side.
Black Cats chairman Quinn says Short’s backing has allowed boss Steve Bruce to start a much-needed revolution on Wearside, with the arrivals of Darren Bent, Lee Cattermole, Michael Turner and Lorik Cana just the first stage.
Sunderland’s 14-game winless streak has seen early-season optimism give way to anxiety as the club finds itself embroiled in a Premier League relegation battle for the third successive season. But the club’s owner is ready to give Bruce another tranche of transfer cash to strengthen further in the summer.
“Ellis Short has been instrumental in giving us a leg-up, if you like, to try and make ourselves a top ten team,” said Quinn. “He is a shrewd businessman who has given us the opportunity to sign people like Bent, Cattermole, Cana and Turner.
“Those are things that would not have happened if we had just been relying on our own finances. The owner shares the same aspirations as the fans. He’s been a colossus for us and we’re very lucky to have him.”
Quinn is acutely aware that there is an air of acute disappointment on the terraces at the way this season has panned out. But he is convinced that, with Short’s financial muscle and Bruce at the helm, the club is moving in the right direction.
“I’m the first person to realise that the fans haven’t had a lot to cheer about over the years,” he said.
“It’s been a long, long time since this club was last challenging for trophies. But we have to believe that we can kick on. For the first time, we have got the investment that will give us the chance to do it.
“I’d rather we were sitting in eighth place now and I was telling everybody about what a great year we had had, but we’re in a scrap – and scrap we will.
“Steve Bruce has only been here six or seven months and it does take a while for a team to settle in. But we are really happy that we have the spine of a side that can consistently get into that top ten. It will need tailoring, and we will do that, but we will have to be very smart in the transfer market.”
Sunderland are preparing to publish their annual accounts over the coming weeks and, at a time when Portsmouth’s descent into administration has shone a spotlight on football’s finances like never before, Quinn and chief executive Steve Walton have assured fans that their club is on a sound financial footing.
Quinn said: “We’re ready to release our audited figures in the next few weeks which will enlighten the fans. When the results come out, they will show the word ‘loss’ but that should be interpreted as ‘extra signings’. We could easily have made a profit this year, but we wouldn’t have had Turner, Bent, Cattermole and Cana.”
Walton added: “Sunderland are not making the news for our finances, unlike some of our competitors.
“It’s really important for the fans to know that we have a solid base, and that’s what having a solid and supportive owner does for us. Recently, the owners of Chelsea and Manchester City have come out and said they have capitalised their loans. What that means is that they have taken the loans they have put into the club and converted them into shares. That means the money is effectively there forever – it can’t be withdrawn and the club doesn’t have to pay interest on it.
“That’s a very powerful thing to do.
“With the help of Ellis Short, we capitalised £48m-worth of loans last July. That strengthened our balance sheet and made us a much stronger club financially. I can’t believe there will be many clubs who, when their accounts come out, will show a stronger balance sheet.”