So now, here we are about to start our second season in League One, is this still true?
I think a more apt term these days would be “hibernating for a long winter giant” because we are a long way away from touching the Premier League. Not just as a squad but as a club. The building blocks are scattered around, it’s just putting them together in the right way.
I think that’s what Stewart Donald is trying to do with his investment plans. You can’t just chuck money at a club and expect it to work. We know this first hand (Ellis Short) but other examples do exist. Manchester City for example, they forked out more than £100 million for Robinho, Santa Cruz, Shay Given and others, they had plenty of failures before piecing together their multi-trophy winning squad.
Once Sheikh Mansour came in it was about building the portfolio of Manchester City. They branched out and bought other clubs, then expanded their training facilities, then their stadium, then their squad and it all slowly came together. We’ve got the training facilities, we’ve got the stadium (I’m going to lie it needs a clean-up and a paint job) we just need to build on that to begin to see the difference.
It starts with building the squad, the right squad, not a squad. That’s what happened last season. The Black Cats chucked a squad together and said “do something”. It was mainly due to lack of numbers and financial circumstances last season that lead to us that position. We’ve done some excellent transfer business this summer and credit where credit is due to the team behind the scenes for that.
The next step is getting to the Championship and starting again. Building on the squad, building on the portfolio. Expanding the brand that is SAFC into a more marketable and profitable place for players and staff a like to take pride in being part of. From there the only way is up. The biggest challenge after that is not only getting into the Premier League, but staying there. Once again, building on the squad, building on the portfolio.
The Premier League opens so many doors for potential revenue streams from TV money, advertisements, feeder clubs and prize money. These are all great aids for building on that portfolio and fulfilling that prospect of being a “Giant”. The most important thing we must factor in this entire equation, which I think does go a miss or doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves, is quite simply time.
I said last season I’d take Premier League football within 5 years. We’ve now got 4 years in my opinion. We have to appreciate the time this takes. Just because I’d take Premier League football in the next 4 years doesn’t mean we will be this “Giant”, far from it. I’d say top 10 Premier League football is achievable within 8-10 years. However, there are so many different hurdles to get over in that time.
We must understand there will be hiccups, there will be times when things don’t go our way. Whether Stewart Donald is here in 10 years is up to the gods really. A lot can happen in that time but as long as the club has this direction, this drive to achieve anything is achievable.