What was that about? Sunderland now not for sale, concludes weeks of odd buyout talk & mucking about


Simon Grayson's appointment and the beginning of pre-season concludes another moderately bizarre episode in Sunderland AFC's recent history and that of its crackpot owner Ellis Short. This seems a suitable moment to take stock and scratch your head. 


Anyone watching the press conference at Sunderland yesterday as Simon Grayson was officially welcomed to the club could be forgiven for thinking all the goings on of the last five weeks were a figment of their imagination. The only real hint that something has been afoot recently was the appearance of chief executive Martin Bain who seems ten years older since he arrived on Wearside and looks like he hasn't slept for a month. 

Have we really just gone through a prolonged period of fevered intrigue that a mysterious German-led consortium were locked in talks with Ellis Short to wrestle control of Sunderland; and suffered one of the most ludicrous manager hunts in the recent history of a frankly oft-ludicrous club?

Did Short really appoint the country's pre-eminent guru on football business, club takeovers and investments to advise him on a sale only to take the club off the market again this week? 

Was there really a trio of Sunderland-supporting TV executives waiting in the wings to usher in Tony Adams as manager, James Corden as cheerleader and some bloke who used to work for Chelsea, if the Deutsch financiers failed to conclude a deal? 

And did Kamikaze owner Short really tell the Germans to get lost because he wasn't convinced of their 'plans' for Sunderland - the man who has been through a hundred strategies for the club in his near-decade tenure only to rip each one up every few months and make a massive hash of the next one instead?

Did Sunderland really pay a small fortune to ex-Rangers boss Walter Smith to find them a suitable manager only to end up appointing the obvious bloke from Preston anyway?

Did Black Cats chief executive Martin Bain really head for the airport to fly to Florida to conclude a deal to bring Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes to take charge of Sunderland only to be told not to bother himself?

With Bain sat in front of the media yesterday to insist that the club is not for sale, positioned next to straight-talking Yorkshireman Simon Grayson, you could be forgiven for thinking you've just endured a bizarre psychedelic dream. 

Welcome to Sunderland. Par for the course. Not much of it rings true right now. Because much of this smacks of yet another godawful sequence of mismanagement and misjudgement. 

One thing which certainly seems fair to conclude is that the takeover talk was largely a media-driven furore over very little. Ellis Short appears to have wandered away from the negotiating table with little interest in pondering the conclusion of a sale which is in stark contrast to the imminent German arrival we were promised in sections of the press following shadowy financiers being locked away performing a detailed due diligence process. 

And it seems reasonable to conclude that the publicly announced halt to the hunt for a manager when Derek McInnes turned the job down to allow for that takeover talk to conclude was largely a wheeze to cover up the cock-up that was the Aberdeen boss being given permission to discuss terms only to then laugh in Sunderland's face. 

Where this really leaves Sunderland now no one knows. Bain insisted the club is no longer for sale but that was surely just to give the impression all is business-as-usual as the new manager sets to and plots a long awaited summer rebuild. 

The club might be 'no longer for sale' but only right now surely. Ellis Short is unlikely to have rediscovered his mojo for Sunderland and opted to remain for the long-term. So now we're stuck in this with a partner who no longer loves us but who we can't get rid of. 

So we'll all just have to learn to get along again and see what the new manager has up his sleeve. A limited budget and continued efforts to reduce the expectations amongst the fan base. That seems to be the way of it for now under Short, and will be until either he departs or the club returns to a better financial footing. At least Grayson said the right things, so all is not quite lost. Yet. 



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