Martin Bain has warned Sunderland will have "very limited funds" available for the January transfer window - but says there is no desire to sell the club's best assets.
Sunderland are £140million in debt and close to the Premier League’s financial fair play (FFP) cap for wages, so the club is limited in terms of what business it can do.
Chief executive Bain has delivered an honest and stark assessment of the situation ahead of next month.
Bain said: "I am sitting here in the month of December and saying to our supporters that we have very limited transfer funds available for January.
"Transfer windows are not prescriptive. You don’t embark on one and get to the end and it is the way you thought it would work out.
"This one won’t be any different to any other I have worked on in the past. What I would like to emphasis is yes, the funds are limited and it will be a difficult journey.
"There is no doubt about that but I think from a fans perspective, between themselves, ourselves, the players and David Moyes, these are times when you dig deep together.
"I have watched Sunderland fans since I have come to the club and I know they do that. It is remarkable the numbers they come in, week-in week-out.
"This is a time we need them. This is the time we just have to deal with the cards that we have been dealt and get on with it."
Years of paying out for players but getting little back in sales - this summer, alone, just £6.5million was recouped for more than a dozen players shipped out - management upheaval and a high wage bill has contributed to the club’s losses.
Since 2009, 46 players have been bought and sold but Sunderland have only made a profit on three.
FFP regulations aim to prevent clubs from making more than a £35million loss per season while also limiting spending on player’s wages.
Clubs that breach the rules face fines, points deductions and possible transfer embargoes.
There was a high turnover of players in the summer, with seven new signings plus new deals handed out to Patrick van Aanholt, Jermain Defoe, Vito Mannone and Lamine Kone plus the wage contributions for loan signings Jason Denayer, Javier Manquillo and Adnan Januzaj.
"In the past and the way the transfers have gone and with regards to Premier League rules, yes, we are limited in terms of what we can do," said Bain.
"I think that is something that I have to make clear. At the moment, we have to operate within financial parameters, we are currently doing that.
"That is what makes for January possibly a window that is maybe not what some expect.
"Fundamentally, I think it is about where we have got to with player trading before that has brought us to a point."
Sunderland have two big assets in goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and defender Lamine Kone, who is wanted by West Ham United.
Bain, though, insists, there is no desire to sell the club’s star players next month.
"I don’t sit here and have a desire to sell assets, the ones that would attract interest.
"The reason I don’t is because David is trying to build a team here.
"Ultimately, I am not naive and know that things happen, things don’t work out quite as you have said.
"Am I promoting the sale of one or two of those assets? No, I am not.
"If they were sold, would it make a difference to the Premier League aspect or what we have to play with, that is where I would sit down with the manager at that point.
"The material difference of losing in terms of gaining and being able to do whatever.
"Ultimately, with January transfer windows sometimes you are not sure what you are getting. There is more of a risk factor.
"Do I want to sell players? No,” added Bain, who admitted it was “difficult” for Moyes and his team who “work around the clock and are looking at players from all over."