West Ham United vice-chair Karren Brady has expressed sympathy for Sunderland owner Ellis Short and believes that the American has tried hard to satisfy the club's fans.
The Black Cats are currently in debt as well as fighting relegation from the Championship just one year after slipping out of the Premier League following several close shaves.
Short is now based back in the US, leaving the running of the club to Martin Bain, and Brady, writing in her column for The Sun, notes the irony of a businessman who built his fortune on investing in distressed real estate assets now having one of his own on his hands.
"No doubt Ellis Short is a good businessman," the former Birmingham City managing director wrote. "His years as owner of Sunderland must disappoint him.
"Indeed it must have been as frustrating to him as those fans who wondered just how many lives their cats could have near the dustbin of the Premier League before finally, nine months ago, being slung out of the back door.
"I have a good deal of sympathy for Short. It is not easy to battle against the tidal pull of relegation. And, while swapping management seats in the equity fund he built would be, for him, a relatively straightforward task, doing it in a football club is an entirely different experience.
"He tried very hard, I'm sure, to satisfy the supporters, those tens of thousands of faithful Mackems. On Saturday [February 3, against Ipswich Town], with 27,909 in the stands, they drew the fourth-highest attendance in the division.
"Short has gone from the chief who wanted all the answers the day before yesterday to one who has left his £50m home in Chelsea to live in Florida where he can't often be reached.
"It is ironic that he built his fortune by investing in distressed real estate assets because that's very much what the Stadium of Light is at the moment."