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Feb 27, 2009

Credit crunch could kill Cisse Sunderland switch

Sunderland's hopes of signing top-scorer Djibril Cisse on a permanent basis have been hit after the player's asking price increased by as much a £3m as a result of the global economic climate.

Last August when Sunderland negotiated their season-long deal with Marseille for the 10-goal striker the Wearsiders were also granted first option on signing the 27-year-old full-time after agreeing a fee with the Ligue 1 side.

However, on Friday Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn admitted that the deal could now prove be too expensive for the Premier League club after currency fluctuations has seen the euro price previously agreed significantly increase in sterling.

''Djibril's deal was done correctly in that the decision will be made at the end of the season. Now, he loves it here and he would love to have his future here - we take that as a very good sign. But there are a couple of factors at play here,'' Quinn told the Sunderland Echo.

''One is that I can't commit to him until we are safe - that's economically rather than football-wise. If (manager) Ricky (Sbragia) wants him football-wise, I can't commit to him if we are a Championship club. I couldn't give so much of our revenue to Marseille for a starter if we were a Championship club. It would be bad practice.

''We need to know where we are going before we make a decision. The second thing to bear in mind is that sterling has fallen apart since we made the deal, and he's become about £2m or £3m dearer since we first agreed the deal."

Despite Cisse's asking price increasing Quinn refused to rule out the deal, adding: ''I'm not saying we won't do it, I'm saying it has to be looked at.''

Sunderland invested more than £70m in their playing squad in a little more than two years under Sbragia's predecessor Roy Keane, and will look to be more focused this summer.

They intend to target a small number of key acquisitions and are confident they will have cash with which to play despite the prevailing economic conditions, which have seen them announce reduced season ticket prices for the next campaign.

However, a strong finish to the current season - they currently lie 11th after dragging themselves eight points clear of the relegation zone - would bring in additional prize money, and that would further increase their spending power.

However, whether that would help to push through Cisse's move remains to be seen.

Quinn said: ''A strong finish to the season would put a little bit more money into the club. If Ricky wants him [Cisse] and we feel good about the deal, then I'm sure we will find a way to do it.

''But economically, it is not so straightforward. Hopefully though, it's only a short delay before we amass enough points and can plan from there.''

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