Sunderland chairman denies crisis over debts

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The Independent Football

The Sunderland chairman, Bob Murray, last night denied reports that they are the latest club to be on the brink of going into administration.

Speculation mounted after it was reported that Sunderland have called in the Professional Footballers' Association as they attempt to drastically stem their financial losses, a process which could include players accepting a deferred payment of part of their salaries.

However, the Wearsiders insist they involved the PFA more than three months ago after it became clear that their stay in the Premiership was over and that they would have to take radical action to address debts spiralling towards £30m.

"We have not just started talking to the PFA, we've been in discussions with the union for the last three months as part of our planning process to deal with the financial implications of relegation," Murray said. "Our discussions have been completely open and transparent and have included the club's bankers, who remain incredibly supportive.

"It is both normal and necessary to involve the PFA so that they can provide independent advice and support to the players during this process.

"It is important to recognise that the PFA are also in talks with or providing help and support to more than 40 clubs in the country, so Sunderland are no different to the majority of clubs in that respect, particularly since the club recently suffered relegation.

"We are just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we are resolute and strong enough to deal with the financial reality. There are a number of pieces to the jigsaw in restructuring our finances and this is just one of them. They include making cost cuts across the business, which sadly has included 70 staff redundancies in the last two months."

The PFA's role in Sunderland's restructuring was confirmed by chief executive Gordon Taylor, who said: "We have been to the club and there have been talks with players and looking at getting the co-operation of players with regards to the deferment of wages until the financial situation at the club picks up.

"It is not a question of contracts being cancelled, but there may well be some contracts cancelled and there may well be some players who stay and agree to defer some of the money.

"We were very impressed by the attitude of the players at the club. They are being realistic and practical about the situation."