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Sunderland looking for change after £27m loss
SUNDERLAND owner Ellis Short is to recommend a review of the club's scouting network this summer in a bid to avoid further seasons of struggle and improve the club's finances after posting a loss of almost £27m.
With the Black Cats sitting just four points above the Premier League's bottom three with eight matches remaining, it has not been the campaign Short or anyone else on Wearside had been hoping for.
And yesterday Sunderland announced a net operating loss of £26.9m for the year ending July 31, 2012, which is a £4.3m improvement on last year's results.
Sunderland's turnover for the period of £78m and their expenses - including wages - was £104.9m, with Sunderland making one permanent signing, three loans and moving five players on during that time.
And chief executive Margaret Byrne said: "Our results reflect a period where we embarked on a programme of continued investment in the playing squad, choosing to retain the services of those players that the manager identified as key to the team.
"We also invested significantly in our academy in order to secure Elite Player Performance Plan Category One Status and give us the best possible chance to develop young players for the future.
"Our net operating loss has reduced slightly and we are continuing to implement a structured financial plan to ensure sustainability for the future."
Despite spending an more than £30m since that accounting period, there has been little sign of progress and manager Martin O'Neill recently admitted that his team still lacks "true quality".
O'Neill, who must first keep Sunderland in the top-flight, is already examining options on the transfer front as he looks to make the changes he thinks will turn the club in to a top ten team.
He was yesterday reported to be keeping tabs on Le Havre's defensive midfielder El-Hadji Ba, a French Under-20 international, and he was at Adams Park on Thursday night to watch England's Under-21s beat Romania.
But something Short is believed to be keen to do to help the club move forward is to change the way Sunderland target and recruit new players.
After a number of years of investment in a number of players under Roy Keane, Steve Bruce and O'Neill, things are going to be looked at to come up with new ideas.
While O'Neill has only been in the job for the last 15 months, he has been given permission to invest in the squad even if he has not tinkered to the same extent as his predecessor, Bruce, did in his time in charge.
After a quiet first transfer window, which included the short-term arrivals of Wayne Bridge and Sotirios Kyrgiakos, who both left at the end of last season, he got the men he wanted last summer.
But in paying a combined £22m for Adam Johnson and Steven Fletcher - two players whose arrivals pleased the supporters - he did not have much room to bring in others with the exception of Danny Rose, on loan, and free agent Louis Saha.
Since then Saha has departed, with hardly an appearance behind him, as has another free agent capture in the shape of James McFadden, who left after making just three substitute appearances.
There is still time for both Danny Graham, a £5m signing from Swansea City, and Alfred N'Diaye, a £3.8m buy from Turkish club Bursaspor, to come good at the Stadium of Light.
But Sunderland's other January arrival, defender Kader Mangane, is still to make a single appearance since his surprise loan move until the end of the season from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal.
Mangane's situation does not look like improving too soon, with Carlos Cuellar replacing Titus Bramble at the heart of the Sunderland defence alongside John O'Shea for last Sunday's 1-1 draw with Norwich City.
And it has emerged Wes Brown - who played 90 minutes in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Wednesday - could yet make a late return to the fold before the end of the season, which would further increase the competition for a place in the middle of the defence.
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