A resounding cheer rocked one side of Wembley Stadium.
Charlton defender Patrick Bauer had tapped in the winning goal to seal promotion their return to the Championship. The Sunderland players were left stunned.
After consecutive seasons on the brink of relegation to the Championship, and then back-to-back relegations, Sunderland fought for a tooth and nail for promotion. It would have been a rare step in the right direction for the Black Cats. However, the Football Gods continued to curse Sunderland. This time, it seemed like a stab in the heart.
To bounce back from another season of disappointment and a seventh straight Wembley heartbreak, the preparation for the new season is a crucial period for the Wearsiders. They will need to fundamentally get it right if they are going to see bring success back to the Stadium of Light.
However, the continued drama which surrounds Sunderland has spilt into pre-season once more with their takeover potentially in trouble. Last summer, Stuart Donald bought a 64 per cent stake in the Black Cats but plans to reduce his role as a minority stakeholder. Donald’s decision is down to needing extra investment so that the club can benefit in the long-term.
Sunderland executive director Charlie Methven stated in May: “Financially, in terms of ongoing costs, staying in League One is straightforward. In fact, going up represents more of a challenge. But of course, in terms of the capital value of our own holdings, promotion is worth a lot more to us. And let’s not beat around the bush, we want to go up.
“We have probably sorted out 60 to 70 per cent of the mess we inherited and while we would need an extra oomph in our financial petrol tank if we were promoted to the Championship, there are quite a few investors who want to join us,” he continued. “They know that putting money into Sunderland Football Club is no longer akin to throwing it down a black hole. We’ve made this club investable again.”
American businessman Mark Campbell has been in line to buy a 74 percent majority stake in the North-Eastern team. He is the representative of a four-man consortium looking to invest but has hit an obstacle after reportedly wanting to pay less than they originally agreed. The effect has trickled into the transfer market with Sunderland only signing Conor McLaughlin on a free transfer from Millwall. If the deal is eventually agreed, the 26 percent remaining stake will be cut up with Donald and co-owner Juan Satori receiving 10 percent, while Methven would have 6 percent.
Sunderland’s problems stem from the Premier League parachute payments ending after this season. Football financial expert Kieran Maguire told the Shields Gazette promotion is ‘essential’ for the future of the club – and is portrayed why in the main areas of the club’s 2017-18 accounts. Despite Sunderland cutting their wage by 45 percent, their losses nearly doubled from £10.02m to £19.9m. While Premier League teams can rely upon luxurious TV deals, Sunderland will only receive 20 percent (£15m) of the broadcast share as they are in their final year of parachute payments. In comparison, Maguire noted League One teams make around £800,000 from TV money (though this is likely to change with the new TV deal coming into place next season.)
Other noticeable details include revenue and costs paralleling one another. Revenue significantly fell from £123.5m to £63.3m, while costs dropping from £162.7m to £83.9m. The vast drop was expected as the club were relegated from the Premier League, subsequently losing out on broadcast money and the additional commercial benefits of being in the Premier League. Though, Maguire still perceived it as a “fairly significant amount”.
In either scenario of promotion or League One sustainability, Sunderland need new investors to help the long-term interests of the club. Their parachute payments’ will this season and additional financial adjustments will be needed to cover the costs of staying within FFP rules. The pre-season takeover limbo will not help the determining season ahead for Jack Ross and his Black Cats.