Sunderland's prudence pays off as they welcome another Boss - Premier League - Football - The Independent

Sunderland's prudence pays off as they welcome another Boss

North-East club get wise to Financial Fair Play by opening Stadium of Light doors to Springsteen

Michel Platini probably never realised his desire for Financial Fair Play would take Bruce Springsteen to Sunderland, or Coldplay, or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for that matter, but the quest for those clubs fighting to join Europe's elite has been to open new revenue streams, and quickly.

Sunderland yesterday revealed financial accounts up to July 2011 that showed they are succeeding. Turnover had risen by a fifth to almost £80m and their operating loss was down 72 per cent to £7.8m.

They are healthy figures by design, as Platini's drive for FFP has effectively called on those clubs yet to benefit from European football to explore every single possible source of income to keep their accounts within the guidelines that are now in place.

Thus there will be another boss at the Stadium of Light this summer.

"We had five concerts last year so that adds helps to boost our turnover and we have three more this year," said Margaret Byrne, Sunderland's chief executive. "That is massive for us. We have to keep our wages structured and realistic or we would never be able to achieve FFP.

"We need to be mindful of that. It means we have to be a bit smarter in the transfer market and being tough with the players. We say you might want this, but you will get this, if you don't like it, 'tough'."

Sunderland signed only two players in this year's January transfer window – both of which were loans.

Byrne said: "It was the calmest January I have had since I have been here. It was 100 per cent Martin O'Neill's decision. The morning of transfer deadline day we were very close to signing a player but it didn't come off and rather than panic and look at other players, Martin was just, 'nah forget it.'

"Selling at the right time and getting players in at the right time is the key. No, we don't have to sell players in the summer, definitely not, it is just about doing smarter deals.

"We sold Jordan Henderson at what was the right time for us [for £16m] and the players we brought in from selling Jordan have had a heck of a lot of influence on the team. We brought in Seb Larsson on a free, Craig Gardner in for £5million, Wes Brown in for £1 million and John O'Shea was £5million.

"We have formed a new company called 1879 Events Management. It is basically going out and using our expertise from the concerts, our stewarding, our catering , everything and then going out and pitching for events, in the North-east and then in the whole of England. We have to think outside the box.

"On the pitch Martin is doing everything he can to get everything he can from the players and we are doing exactly the same off it."

In other news, Borussia Dortmund playmaker Mario Götze has signed a new, long-term deal at Borussia Dortmund. The 19-year-old Germany midfielder, who had been linked with a move to Arsenal, has already established himself as a regular for both club and country and has played a pivotal role in Dortmund's bid to retain the Bundesliga title this season.

Wenger revealed on Friday that his summer will not be spent shopping in the transfer market as he targets quality rather than quantity but Gotze is believed to have been on his radar.

Dortmund currently sit five points clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the league and Götze told the club's official website he wants to build on the current success.

"Everyone knows how comfortable I feel in Dortmund, I want to be a part of this development," he said.

Despite the recent successes Gotze had been consistently linked with a move away from the Westfalenstadion with Arsenal one of the major European clubs interested.

Meanwhile, the Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, has dismissed Milan's chances of winning this season's Champions League.

The Frenchman, whose side were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate by the Rossoneri in the first knockout stage, praised their attacking flair but, writing in his column for Eurosport, he maintains Milan do not have what it takes to win their eighth European Cup.

"I know Milan very well; they play very well as far as collective work is concerned, but I do not think they are up to the task of winning the trophy," he said.

Massimiliano Allegri's Serie A-topping side take on current Champions League holders Barcelona tonight and Wenger feels home advantage could hold the Italians in good stead for the first leg.

"Milan know what to do to win at the San Siro," he said. "I hope the condition of their pitch has improved because against us it was a disaster.

"They have some weak points, although they have a player with the quality of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Robinho can also be very dangerous in attack, but 'Ibra' can score a lot of goals on a good day."

After almost throwing away a 4-0 first-leg lead against Arsenal, Milan progressed into the quarter-finals but despite their undoubted European pedigree Wenger is certain they will not succeed this year.

"Everyone looks at Milan with respect, but I think they have no chance of winning the Champions League," he said.

Finally, the Italian Cup final between Juventus and Napoli on 20 May still has no venue after a row between the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and Serie A over the use of Rome's Stadio Olimpico.

Serie A rubber-stamped a decision on Monday to host the final as usual in Rome but Gianni Petrucci, head of CONI which owns the Olimpico, was annoyed that the league had not officially asked him so he has blocked its use.

"For us the matter is closed, they'll have to think of another stadium," Petrucci said yesterday.

Juventus reacted with anger, saying such a big match deserved to be played at the famous arena in the capital while Napoli fans do not want to travel all the way to Milan's San Siro for the game.

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