After nearly a decade in the Premier League, Sunderland has finally been relegated. Sunderland’s demise has been coming for a long time. Factor’s including; a lack of financial growth and the constant hiring and firing of new managers have both been contributing factors.
Financially the club’s lack of growth has hindered any continued progress. The club has not made a profit since 2006, yet they’ve continued to spend considerable amounts on player purchases. The lack of performance over the past few years has led to a lack of resale value and high wages has led to difficult for Sunderland to bring new players in while also selling underperforming players. To make matters worse, Sunderland has a 76% wage turnover rate, this means that 76% of all revenue made each year is spent on wages of their players. This became problematic this season for manager David Moyes, the former Man United manager often complained about the lack of transfer funds available and the only way of bringing in new players was by selling the few high performing players at the club, this was evident when the club accepted the transfer of Patrick Van Aanholt to fellow relegation fighters Crystal Palace.
Another factor in Sunderland’s poor performance over the last few years has been the club’ ridiculous amount of manager turnover which continually destroyed the stability and curtailed progress. Since 2008, Sunderland has had 11 different managers, An endless cycle occurred each season with managers getting fired at the first sign getting into a relegation battle. The cycle goes like this: Sunderland notoriously performs poorly early on and find themselves a the bottom of the table, the board then make the swift decision to fire the manager midseason, and a new manager comes in brings in a few new players and the club manage to stay in the Premier League. The following season they continue to struggle, get pulled into another relegation battle and the board makes the same decision. The long list of managers included names like Steve Bruce, Martin O’Neill, Paulo Di Canio, Gus Poyet, Dick Advocaat, and Sam Allardyce. Last year Sam Allardyce looked like he could’ve been the manager to get Sunderland out of this vicious cycle but halfway through preseason “Big Sam” took an offer he couldn’t refuse to become the England manager.
David Moyes came in the middle of the summer to a financially unstable club and with owners who only really sought to sell the club which created a lack of ambition throughout the club. The manager created an accurate yet defeated mentality in early August by already proclaiming that the club would be in a relegation battle. This time there was never a reaction from the manager or the players to the poor results, clubs around them tried to make changes but relegation was always bound to happen at some point with Sunderland. Aston Villa was in a similar position financially and on the field just as Sunderland, they are currently mid-table in the championship and I expect Sunderland will be facing a similar long return back to the Premier League. With several players out of contract at the end of the season, a drastic change in policy or new ownership will be the only way for Sunderland to survive in the long run.