Cats are on sound financial footing
SUNDERLAND'S annual accounts will show a loss for the last financial year, but chairman Niall Quinn insists the club remains on a solid footing thanks to the continued support of owner Ellis Short. The Texas-based tycoon helped fund Steve Bruce's transfer spending spree last summer by injecting almost £50m of his own money into the club. Short converted loans into shares that helped wipe debt from the club's accounts and underpin the recruitment of the likes of Darren Bent, Lee Cattermole and Lorik Cana. Portsmouth entering administration last month acted as a wake up call to Premier League bosses who have been forced to accept that the world's richest league is no longer immune to the impact of the global financial downturn. Prior to the release of their audited figures later this month Quinn has attempted to allay fears that investment in new talent has left the Wearsiders in a precarious position. Sunderland increased their wage bill significantly last summer to sign players capable of establishing Bruce's side in the upper half of Premier League. But thanks to Short's backing, Quinn and chief executive Steve Walton remain convinced that Sunderland are in no danger of going too far into the red. Quinn said: We're about to release our audited figures in the next few weeks and I'm happy that will provide more enlightenment for our fans. The accounts will show the word loss', but that should really be interpreted as extra signings'. We could easily have shown a profit but we wouldn't have Turner, Bent, Cattermole or Cana. We have a situation now where we have a great chance of going forward. Chief executive Walton believes that Sunderland were among the best run clubs in the division, adding: I'm glad to say Sunderland aren't making the headlines for financial reasons. The really important thing for the fans is that we have a solid financial base and that's what having a solid owner does for us. There's one thing I want to emphasise. Recently we've seen Chelsea and Manchester City say their owners have capitalised their loans. What that means is they've taken loans they've put into the club and converted them into shares. The money is then effectively there forever and can't be withdrawn, so it's a very powerful thing to do. Well, we did that last year. With the help of Ellis Short, we capitalised £48m last July. We just did it and didn't make a song and dance about it. That made us much stronger. He continued: We spent more than we earned last year and we did that because we wanted to take the club to another level. We could only do that because our owner allowed us to. I can't believe that many clubs will show a stronger balance sheet and reduced debt. Not only did we cover off the investments, Ellis Short gave us money to reduce our external bank debts as well. It's a really strong and powerful picture going forward. Sunderland's trip to Aston Villa has been rescheduled for Wednesday, March 24 (7.45pm). The sides were due to meet tomorrow, but the game was postponed because of Villa's progression to the FA Cup quarter finals.
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