It’s a dry subject and not a particularly exciting one to start the save story with, but the finances at Sunderland are a little unique.
I’m playing the game much slower in this version of Football Manager, so actual save updates are a little limited at the moment. However, for the first time in a long time the Under 23’s friendly match has highlighted a couple of things I want to touch on in this post.
History of the Money
From what I can gather, mostly from SAFC podcasts, former owner Ellis Short cleared the clubs debt of over £100 million before selling the club to Eastleigh FC chairman Stewart Donald. Donald then put approx £30 million in to the club. At the time SAFC supporters and media took that as being £30 million for transfers. But, it was money to keep run the club as well as for transfers/wages etc.
With the club debt free and with a huge cash injection, things seem to be turning up Millhouse. Certainly in the game it all looks good.
This certainly reflects the real life situation at the club. As I highlighted in the introduction blog post, to this save, £4 million to spend but only £3600 per week remaining in the wages budget.
Sorting out the finances
The options here are simple and a couple real life SAFC manager Jack Ross has said he’s trying to implement.
Option 1 – Offload the big earners and replace with cheaper alternatives. I’m looking at you Lee Cattermole:
£30,000 a week, 12% of the overall wage budget AND a 25% wage rise if we get promoted – putting him on £37,500 per week. Yes, his stats are great for League One, but his salary not so good.
Needless to say I told him I’d put him on the transfer list as I needed the money and he was earning too much. His response was, he thinks he’s getting a fair wage – I am sure he does. Now I have a very expensive slightly unhappy player on my hands.
Option 2 – Pump some of the transfer budget in to the wage budget. I’ve been looking at the scouted players and whilst I can afford them, I can’t afford even the lowest wage demands. So, until Mr Cattermole is gone, this is the only real option available to me if I want to bring in new players.
Option 3 – Go with what I have got already at the club. Promote some of the youngsters to the first team and hope what is at the club is good enough. I’d like another goalkeeper, left back and striker, but that won’t happen with this option.
The U23’s friendly
I know friendlies don’t mean anything, blah, blah, blah. However, scraping a 4-3 win is worrying. Especially as we had it in the bag by half time.
On the player front we seem to be ok for attack. 19 year old Maja really gives me hope for the future of the club, especially considering he came through the Academy of Light
On the U23’s side we also seem to be sorted for the future in attacking options. Nelson, Hackett and Patterson all earned themselves a promotion to the first team. The advantage of being a League One team is not having to loan out these sorts of players. Normally, if we were in the Premier League, I’d loan them out for development and usually to a League One club. Now I get to keep them and play them and develop them in house. Which really helps when there are wage budget limitations.
Looking at the rest of the stats for the match, the first team was pretty evenly matched. Now this could mean we have a really good youth set-up and potential, or the first team isn’t good enough. Only more games will tell for sure – its only a friendly.
We are the 700 pound gorilla in League One financial terms. But that gorilla has a gammy leg and can’t wield its full power. Does that metaphor even work?
We have options, which is good. We have some great young players, which is better. We have an overpaid “star” who won’t leave, back to the bad.
Early signs are we have a lot of work to do in order to compete, conceding 3 goals to the U23’s, no matter how good those young attacking players are, is a worry and highlights my concern with goalkeeper and defensive positions.