Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has insisted the club's players would have borne the brunt of relegation had the worst happened.
The Black Cats secured their Premier League status on the final day of last season as neighbours Newcastle and Middlesbrough slipped out of the top flight.
But while the repercussions are being felt on Tyneside, where off-the-field redundancies have been made amid severe cost-cutting which will not extend to the bulk of the current crop of players, Quinn has revealed his club had a plan which would have avoided that scenario.
The Irishman had retired through injury by the time the Wearsiders slipped back into the Football League in 2003, and looked on from afar as dozens of members of staff were laid off, and he is not prepared to countenance a repeat.
He told the Journal: "We had it planned for quite a while that relegation would be put more on the players than the staff here. It wouldn't have been a knee-jerk reaction to do that. The players' salaries would have been trimmed, not the staff and we had a survival plan in place.
"I remember what happened when so many members of staff lost their jobs here and that was the cruellest thing of all, seeing so many of the non-football staff pack their bags and have to go. That hurt the very epicentre of the club. You don't feel so sorry for the player who has to go and drive his Ferrari out of the gates. We were determined we would have that plan in place."