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The Charlton Athletic director of football Steve Gallen estimates that Sunderland’s budget is £9-or-10-million.

Charlton spent much of their first transfer window back in League One – and the first since a wage cap was implemented across the EFL’s bottom two divisions – in financial turmoil, as they awaited the sale of the club to Thomas Sandgaard.

But the Addicks, who beat Sunderland to gain promotion back to the Championship 18 months ago, have managed to steady the ship since the Dane’s arrival.

Speaking to London News Online this week, Gallen claimed his side’s salary budget must now be around £3m – which is at least three times smaller than Sunderland’s.

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“I will never stretch us, that’s one thing I’ll never do,” he said. “When I came in we were in League One and [Igor] Vetokele was on 10 grand a week. Other players were on seven-and-a-half and stuff like that. You wouldn’t believe what our players are on now.

“We’re in League One and three or four of them are playing on a grand a week and some of them are on two grand a week.

“When we got promoted our budget must have been around £7m – we must be £3m now. Sunderland’s is probably £9m or £10m, but because they got most of their business done before the vote they go down as [spending] £2.5m.

“We only had nine players before that vote.”

James Chance/Getty Images

Despite their recent upheaval, Charlton have made an almost unthinkable start to life back in the third tier and actually sit a point and three positions higher than six-placed Sunderland in the standings.

Things could yet get better for Lee Bowyer’s side, who can move level with the league leaders Peterborough United if they win their game in hand.

Charlton and Sunderland played out a 0-0 draw at The Valley last month and are scheduled to face each other at the Stadium of Light in April.

In other news, Alan Shearer criticises Leeds United striker Patrick Bamford