The Black Cats, who recorded a £33million loss after tax for the year to July 31, 2016, at which point they had debts of £110.4million, have had to tighten their belts in the wake of relegation from the Premier League at the end of last season.
Fans who thought there might be room for manoeuvre following goalkeeper Pickford’s big-money move to Everton in June – and the departures of the likes of Jeremain Lens and Vito Mannone – have been left disappointed and angry amid speculation, vehemently denied by sources on Wearside, that the club could go into administration.
However, Bain has confirmed a proportion of that income has had to be used to pay off remaining instalments on previous signings, including almost £10million to Inter Milan for Ricky Alvarez following a protracted legal fight.
Bain told the Sunderland Echo: “The income drop after relegation, from £100million to around £40million, has to be considered and so does the wage bill, which is still significant for this level, even though we have taken steps to reduce it.
“We’ve brought in £30million for Jordan Pickford, but that is needed for the running of the club. Yes, that money comes in, but then you have to consider the money that went out on legacy transfer payments at the start of the summer.
“Added to that we lose some of it when you consider Ricky Alvarez, a player we don’t have, a mistake from the past.”
Owner Ellis Short has borne the brunt of fans’ frustration after admitting he was no longer prepared to pour funds into the club – which is effectively up for sale – with little prospect of it making a tangible difference.
However, Bain insists the American businessman is still committed to maintaining the business’ viability, but is seeking a better way to run it.
He said: “I’m sure that Ellis looks at the football club now and recognises that he’s made mistakes. He spent an awful lot and now wants to do things differently.
“We have to do things in a way where we can get steady growth and be more sustainable, so that we’re not being knee-jerk in what we do.
“We couldn’t continue the way things have been in recent years but he is absolutely, categorically still funding the club.”