Sunderland are not for sale, or are they? Time for Ellis Short to tell us

Sunderland are not for sale, or are they? Time for Ellis Short to tell us

For sale: Sunderland Football Club. Or is it? The Black Cats – ChronicleLive understands – received an enquiry in early summer about the possibility of a takeover by a consortium believed to be from China. Any genuine interest quickly evaporated. But Ellis Short is reported to have instructed representatives to sound out potential buyers, chiefly in the Far East. That region is awash with cash and boasts a huge and growing appetite for involvement in the game in England. The Chinese government owns a 13 per cent share in UAE-controlled Manchester City, while businessmen from the People’s Republic hold stakes in West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Leicester City, Reading and Sheffield Wednesday are Thai-owned. Malaysian Tony Fernandes has 66 per cent of QPR. A right mixed bunch, then. So first of all let us stress that while barrowloads of investment sound great, be careful what you wish for… And, of course, if that’s what you’re thinking, it may well be wishful. No formal notice of sale has been issued, no come-and-get plea. And Short has not vocalised publicly a change of tune since defending himself against suggestions of a lack of ambition in a matchday programme last August. Read More Sunderland were in takeover talks in early summer but any interest ended quickly That then seemed a fairly defiant expression of intent. Perhaps it is time for another, from him or chief executive Martin Bain. Perhaps either might also use the opportunity to issue David Moyes a vote of confidence. It doesn’t have to come served with a scoop of ‘dread’, or preface the sack. Sunderland is a club crying out for stability but, let’s face it, right now who knows where things stand? Its ongoing woes have led many to suppose for some time that Short has grown tired of his involvement, and wants out. Good riddance, some will say, and whatever the timeframe and the truth of it, they may not have been surprised by this latest ‘news’. There is not a ‘For Sale’ sign up at the Stadium of Light. But the Texan billionaire didn’t become a Texan billionaire without a nose for a deal. He is said to be a ruthless businessman. With such, everything is almost always for sale, at the right price. And that might just be the problem. Short bought the Black Cats from the Drumaville group for around £20 million in 2009. He has invested more than £200 million to underwrite the club’s debt – most recently quoted at £141 million – and ongoing losses, and spent £27 million during the summer transfer window. Read More David Moyes is under pressure at Sunderland, but the list of potential replacements is thin It is said he values his asset at £150-200 million. Now given what we know about Sunderland’s potential, its history and fanbase, that might sound a snip. Sleeping giants, and all that. So in some respects the club is an attractive proposition to investors. But the appetite of those we are talking about here is mainly for the cash cow of the Premier League and right now Sunderland’s association with the top fli…

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