Saturday, 27 May 2023

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow..

Remind me never to use the expression 'on the brink' again. In my defence, it wasn't the bed-wetting excitement of Methven's stooges that persuaded me to use it but Rich Cawley's post-Sandgaard confirmation that 'a deal has been agreed subject to contract.'

Fully ten days on and we appear no closer to new ownership. Not only that but Methven has been at it again laying messages that Sandgaard is so very difficult to deal with and maybe that he doesn't really want to a deal with Methven's consortium in any event. Not only that but the grapevine is suggesting wilder fantasies like Ray Winstone had been fronting a consortium (via Peter Varney) and even that Marc Spiegel is still bidding and that he has also thrown his ten-bob behind Friedman, Brener and Co if it gets him a chance to save face and play Fantasy Football.

The storylines also suggest that a Sales Purchase Agreement is only one remaining hurdle and that EFL challenges over owners and their financial commitments still have to be jumped. This despite previous assertions via those involved that this was all done first time around. 

Duchatelet is also being held up as another potential obstacle, perhaps being unwilling to re-assign the lease? I really don't get that. I can't see a situation where Sandgaard's lawyers allowed him to sign a lease he wasn't free to re-assign. Not sure how it would benefit Duchatelet either. 

Hundreds and maybe a couple of thousand would-be season-ticket holders are hanging on to their money pending an announcement. Keen not to give their money to Sandgaard, who they believe will simply pocket it and walk away, they seem completely unconcerned that any incoming ownership group with limited financial commitment to the club but determination to turn a quick profit are also likely to do exactly the same thing.

After approaching six months of negotiation we appear no nearer getting shot of disinterested Sandgaard. You really have to ask yourself 'why?' He is as desperate as Duchatelet was to stop funding the losses and despite what some supporters want to believe, I don't think for a minute that he can't do the sums or that he is prepared to continue cutting his nose off to spite his face by trying to leverage his buyers for small incremental gains at the expense of delaying a deal which simply costs him half-a-million quid or more a month. He has very publicly tried to raise funds by selling more of his stake in Zynex in recent weeks and even that went wrong for him, wiping a big slew off the share-price and forcing him to downgrade his sell-off by nearly 90%.

Fans are also desperate to get a deal done, so that we don't miss the Summer transfer window but surely that fear is irrational? Looking at the struggle everyone seems to be having raising the money and passing the tests involved, who really thinks new owners are going to be buying better players? Methven's consortium have already let it be known they won't be splashing the cash. No shit - heavy cost cutting is what is expected despite assurances to the contrary. Methven, who still maintains there is no role for him, post a deal, is hardly likely to acknowledge anything that would be a complete 'no-no' for the club's supporters until a deal has been completed. There are still those out there who acknowledge that he came across as a pompous oaf and a mercenary in 'Sunderland til I Die' but are hoping he might somehow be different at Charlton despite the whole of Wearside warning us against him. 

What we can be sure of, is that Dean Holden will start building a new squad. He has to and he has the wage headroom to do that. But unless we cash in on playing assets, it will be done within that wage headroom and logic tells you (like it has been since we signed Scott Fraser) we will do really well to end up marginally better off than last season. We may sign some better players than under the involvement of the owner's son (it wouldn't be impossible would it?) but we will struggle, I believe, to attract a similar crop of loanees. What's more, given the financial struggles of any would-be buyers thus far, I wouldn't be at all surprised if they plan to flog Leaburn to give themselves an immediate repayment and possibly provide a smaller sum towards the ongoing running costs of the club. 

What is clear to me is that Sandgaard will be gone fairly soon despite fears to the contrary. Those three million shares he sold after the price plunged tell you he really can't afford to continue paying the bills. In fact, the pressure will be on him to get a deal done, not the buyers. I wouldn't be at all surprised if they are leveraging him in all this, not the other way around.