Sunderland sporting director Kristjaan Speakman has met with manager Alex Neil this week to discuss preparations for the club’s return to the Championship but there are no plans to offer him a contract extension.
Neil is currently on a 12-month rolling deal at the Stadium of Light after replacing Lee Johnson at the helm in February and has indicated he wants to stay at the North East club ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.
The Scot helped end the Black Cats’ four-year spell in League One but there are no plans to make changes to his contract or hand him an extension.
Speaking to Chronicle Live, Speakman offered insight into the situation.
He said: “At the minute, we have an agreement in place. It’s like anything, we are always reviewing all elements. At the present time, it is all systems go and we will continue to make sure that every member of staff is happy.
“We want to make sure that Alex feels comfortable where he is, and he is [comfortable]. I don’t think we need to get into the intricacies, I think people have got to be confident that we will make the best possible decisions we can for Sunderland.
“We have got a Championship manager, which we knew back when he was appointed because we wanted to be ready for this moment.”
This summer is set to be a vital one for the Black Cats as they tool up in preparation for their return to the Championship.
Speakman told Chronicle Live that he’d held talks with Neil over the plans moving forward and hoped to use the manager’s second tier experience.
He explained: “We’ve got loads of clarity around how we are working and what the strategy is, but naturally it takes a big step up when you go to the Championship because it is a completely different entity.
“Alex has managed in the Championship, he understands what the requirements are, and it’s about how we transition to that. I think we’ve got really good alignment over how we are going to do that – I spent all Sunday night and Monday morning chatting to Alex about that, and we see a lot of it from a very similar perspective.”
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It’s fantastic news for Sunderland that Speakman and Neil held talks about preparations for the Championship so soon after their promotion was confirmed.
While supporters may have loftier aspirations, next season’s target has to be staying in the second tier and the business that gets done in the coming weeks will likely be vital to that.
Both parties appear content with the contract situation but there’s no denying there are risks and benefits.
A 12-month rolling deal doesn’t offer a huge amount of protection should clubs attempt to prize Neil away but it does aid them if they feel a change at the helm is necessary.
Hopefully, the latter is not the case next term.