I think we all know Sunderland Football Club Academy at Cleadon is a big white elephant, just as other football clubs are finding out (Huddersfield and Brentford have closed theirs recently).
Built at a cost of more than £10million, SAFC opened its doors in 2003 with magnificent facilities, including a huge sports barn with 4G football pitches, up to 18 outdoor pitches, hydropool, treatment rooms and restaurants.
It has cost millions of pounds since to maintain.
Yet you can count only a handful of players who have gone on to make it through to the first team (bearing in mind the large number who were there from childhood to adulthood).
There are probably about 200 kids in that age group training and playing there every season, so over the last 14 years you could safely say more than 2,500 players have gone through the doors. That means about 99% are not making the grade.
Why doesn’t Ellis Short cut his and Sunderland’s losses and gift the academy’s facilities to Sunderland and South Shield schools so that it could be of benefit to thousands of local schoolchildren?
It would be some where they can play all types of sports in a first-class environment with superb facilities. The cream would still come to the top. Make it for the many not the few.
They might even erect a statue in his honour, with the inscription Ellis Short benefactor in Roker Park of course.