DAVID MOYES’ brutally honest assessment of Sunderland’s financial position has resulted in two key questions being asked. Why, at a time when more money is flowing into the Premier League than ever before, is the club unable to compete with the vast majority of its top-flight rivals? And is Sunderland’s owner, Ellis Short, ultimately the one to blame?

The answer to the first question is relatively simple, and is contained within the club’s most recent set of accounts, which covered the period to the end of the 2014-15 season. To put it succinctly, Sunderland are in a financial mess.

Whichever measure of a club’s financial performance you choose, the Black Cats do not fare well. Their most recent annual loss was £25m, an increase of 49 per cent on the season before. Only two Premier League clubs posted a bigger loss – QPR and Aston Villa. And we all know what happened to them.

The wage bill rose by 11 per cent to £77.1m (the ninth highest in the Premier League), a figure that represents an alarming 76 per cent of turnover. Only QPR squandered a higher proportion of their income on wages.

Sunderland’s revenue was only the 15th highest in the top-flight (three of the clubs below them were relegated), yet their annual interest payments almost trebled to £6m.

This is a club that is haemorrhaging money, and it has been for quite some time. Sunderland haven’t posted a profit since 2006, and in the last nine seasons, their total losses before tax amount to £170m.

As a result, their gross debt has risen to a point where it is just about unsustainable. Since 2009, Sunderland’s debt has almost trebled to £141m, with £58m owed directly to Short and £83m owed as part of a new borrowing arrangement with Security Benefit Corporation (SBC). Of that £83m, £68m is in the form of a loan, with £15m committed to a revolving credit facility.

Year on year, Sunderland’s financial position has grown worse. Why? Because a ridiculous amount of money has been squandered on making bad signings and paying off bad managerial appointments. With that in mind, is it any wonder Short is wanting to adapt the way his club does its business?

In the last four seasons of published accounts, Sunderland had a net annual transfer spend of £18m. That was the eighth highest in the Premier League. Suffice to say, the Black Cats have not been finishing in the top eight in the table.

Spending big money on players is not always a route to financial meltdown of course. If those players hold their value, and are sold for either the same sum or a profit, a club can tick over quite nicely without the need for borrowing or outside investment.

At Sunderland, though, that has simply not happened. In the last nine seasons (not including either of the last two summers), it is estimated the club made a grand total of £38m from player sales. That is a drop in the ocean compared to what was splashed out.

Darren Bent and Simon Mignolet are two of the few players to have increased in value during their time on Wearside, with Jordan Henderson, who made a £26m move to Liverpool, representing a rare success from the club’s academy. Beyond that, though? A weird and wonderful hotchpotch of players who were signed seemingly off the cuff, and who cost Sunderland money.

This summer’s dealings, while not included in any published accounts, provide a perfect example. Steven Fletcher and Danny Graham – signed for £17m; released for nothing at the end of their deals. Throw in their wages, and that’s the best part of £25m that Sunderland might as well have tossed down the drain. Emanuele Giaccherini - sold for £1.5m; bought for £8.5m two years earlier. That’s just the tip of an iceberg big enough to sink a football club, let alone a boat.

Sunderland are paying for a succession of dreadful deals, but the issue of who is to blame is a thorny one. Is Short responsible? The somewhat unsatisfactory answer is yes and no.

The one thing Sunderland’s Irish-American owner cannot be accused of is a refusal to spend any money. Had Short not propped the club up with his own cash after the original Drumaville consortium racked up a huge amount of debt, the administrators might well have been running things at the Stadium of Light before now.

Short has loaned around £160m of his own money to Sunderland, and unlike Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, whose support comes in the form of a series of interest-free loans that could theoretically be called in at any time, the Black Cats custodian has capitalised £100m of his debt, meaning he can only recoup it if he sells the club at a certain price.

The recent reorganisation of the SBC loans, with the potential for the banks to claim some equity at a future date, suggests that while Short might not be looking to sell now, he could be keen to spread some of the load so he is no longer a sole owner. Either way, it would be grossly unfair to accuse him of not putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to propping Sunderland up.

That said, however, the disastrous decisions that have resulted in the current financial state have largely been taken on Short’s watch, and ultimately he has to carry the can for them.

He signed off the big-money transfers, he hired and fired managers at a mind-boggling rate, he allowed his club to veer off in a series of markedly different directions and he appointed people to senior positions when they were clearly not up to the task.

It’s not that Sunderland’s transfer policy has been wrong under Short’s tenure – the brutal reality is that there hasn’t been a transfer policy at all. One moment Martin O’Neill was in sole charge of transfers, even though that clearly wasn’t his area of expertise, the next Roberto De Fanti was being appointed as an all-powerful director of football even though he had no experience in the role.

De Fanti, Lee Congerton, Margaret Byrne – Short has placed a great deal of power in the hands of people who have been wanting. Every turn he has taken has been a wrong one, resulting in the situation Moyes finds himself in now. It is his money, and that shouldn’t be forgotten. But he is the one who has squandered it, and Sunderland are paying the price.