Sunderland Announce Layoffs Less Than A Week After A Team Trip To New York

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Sunderland Announce Layoffs Less Than A Week After A Team Trip To New York

Optics count for a lot. Individuals and organizations ignore them at their peril.

Case in point:

Sunderland’s senior team flew to New York last week for a midseason training camp. They joined other Premier League clubs like Liverpool in using an FA Cup weekend they would not be participating in to get away for a few days and get some good training work in. With Sunderland once again threatened by relegation and with a dwindling number of matches in which to turn things around, there’s no doubt that the team could’ve used this and indeed any advantage they could get. (Of course, there is some disagreement in the squad as to whether the trip was truly effective.)

Their mental reset didn’t last long, however, as the club kicked off a PR row through a wholly unforced error.

Earlier today Sunderland announced a round of layoffs at the club. (Or “redundancies,” as they call it over there.) The decision was made after several months of consultations and a review of the club’s business operations.

A statement from club executive Martin Bain said this is a painful but necessary move.

”In recent months we have undertaken a detailed review of the club’s entire operation. It is clear that the business had lost its focus and we now have to ensure that we are better equipped to be able to concentrate on the areas that are key to taking Sunderland AFC forward. Our infrastructure provides a tremendous platform and it is important that we capitalise on this by channelling our efforts into those areas that will have an impact. We want to ensure that the football club is in the best possible position to grow stronger, both on and off the field.”

It’s unclear how many people are at risk of losing their jobs, although the Daily Mail says dozens may be on the block.

It may well be that Sunderland needs to lay people off in order to preserve the financial and operational viability of the club. And while greater efficiency is good for any business, this will likely be even more important should the club drop down to the Championship at the end of this season. Taken purely in a vacuum, this is probably a wise move to protect the business.

Announcing the redundancies a few days after the senior team returns from an overseas trip— one for which the very necessity is being questioned— was not a wise move. Sure, there’s no good time to tell a large group of people that they’re being laid off, but announcing it now creates some pretty bad optics. And it’s not like the club needed another PR crisis.