Sunderland barely have two pennies to rub together at the moment. But the debt-ridden Wearsiders are doing everything they can to stump up enough cash to lure Paul Heckingbottom away from Barnsley.
The Sunderland Echo reports that Heckingbottom has emerged as The Black Cats’ first choice managerial candidate to take over from the sacked Simon Grayson.
Chief executive Martin Bain is expected to make contact with the Barnsley board in the next 24 hours in order to obtain permission to speak to the highly-rated coach. And Bain will be fully aware that he faces a difficult task luring Heckingbottom away from the security of West Yorkshire to the instability of the North East, where Sunderland are searching for their ninth manager in six years.
With the Black Cats bottom of the Championship and without sufficient funds to improve a poor squad in January, it will take a brave man to assume the responsibility to shaking this sleeping giant back to life.
Sweeten the deal
In order to sweeten the deal, however, the Sunderland Echo claims that Sunderland will offer Heckingbottom a pay-packet four times higher than his current wage at Barnsley.
It is understood that the 40-year-old, who spent three years as Sunderland as a trainee in his playing days, is one of the Championship’s lowest paid coaches on a £100,000-a-year rolling contract.
Sunderland, however, will offer closer to half a million with a bonus if Heckingbottom saves the club from successive relegations.
Money isn’t everything, however, and even the promise of a huge wage should be tempered by the fact that managers’ don’t tend to stick around at the Stadium of Light for long.