Sunderland chief unconvinced by 'clever' Newcastle

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Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn is not convinced arch-rivals Newcastle will be Barclays Premier League paupers this summer.

Magpies owner Mike Ashley has insisted there will be no capital outlay on new players during the close season as the club attempt to manage their debt.

However, with many fans anticipating a long, hard fight for top-flight survival, Quinn would not be surprised if manager Chris Hughton was presented with some cash.

He told the Journal: "They could be playing a clever game."

He added: "They may have set themselves up a little bit when Mike took them on. There was a new pressure because he was bringing so much money into the club, the outside world thought, 'This is it, Newcastle are going to be in the top four'.

"This time around, I'm sure they have learnt an awful lot to give a lesser message out, and anything better is a bonus.

"I wouldn't be surprised if Chris has loads of money to spend."

That would seem unlikely with Newcastle estimating their loss over the last two financial years at almost £70million and with Ashley's interest-free loans to the club currently totalling £111million.

Quinn knows only too well just how much it can cost to stay in the Premier League after handing successive managers in excess of £110million over the past three summers in a bid to retain his own club's place among the elite.

However, while owner Ellis Short remains committed to backing the vision for the future sold to him by his chairman and current boss Steve Bruce, the Black Cats will not spend for spending's sake as football in general tightens its belt.

Quinn said: "We were aspiring to good strong financial levels the day I came in here. We knew we had to have a punt, and that came from the (previous) owners' pockets. The beauty of the owner now is that it is not by way of debt to the company. It's almost like he's sponsoring the club."

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