Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Show They Have the Right Credentials

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cats Show They Have the Right Credentials

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Last night's meeting of Sunderland and Wigan was a pivotal fixture, but which club is better equipped for top-flight football? Paul Gilder reports

According to Mick McCarthy, it is teams rather then traditions, footballers rather than facilities, skills rather than supporter numbers which are decisive in any club's efforts to join the elite of the English game.

In those terms, there has been little to separate Sunderland and Wigan this season. Yet when it comes to taking the next step ( that of attempting to survive in a Premiership proving increasingly punishing to naive newcomers ( there are numerous further factors to take into consideration.

While neither is yet assured of a top-flight future ( there are still 15 points up for grabs ( both clubs remain confident that, come the start of next season, their names will no longer be found on the Coca-Cola Championship fixture list.

Blueprints for all eventualities have long been drawn up. But, since taking over divisional leadership 17 days ago, those of a red-and-white persuasion have found themselves increasingly engaged in considering what would be needed should elevation be achieved.

Squad improvements are mandatory for all keen to compete in Premiership circles and, with promotion said to swell a club's coffers by around pounds 25m, there would be cash available for strengthening in the short-term.

With resources and revenue streams playing such a decisive role in determining who succeeds and who fails in the first tier of the professional game, that the Wearsiders have such a phenomenal fan base suggests they would have an advantage over last night's opponents should their main aim be achieved.

Although Wigan have occupied a place at the head of the standings for much of the season, the JJB Stadium has been a lonely place at times.

On several occasions, fewer than 10,000 supporters have turned up to watch a side in pole position in the race for top-flight recognition. …

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