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ROKER ROUNDUP: Alim Ozturk opens up on Sunderland & Uruguayan business denies Sartori rumours

Alim Ozturk has revealed to the Dutch press the real reasons why he ended up at Sunderland, whilst a Uruguayan business have moved to deny rumours about our co-owner Juan Sartori.

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Ozturk on ‘mega club’ Sunderland

Sunderland’s Turkish defender Alim Ozturk was born in the Netherlands to Turkish parents and started his career at SC Cambuur before he moved to Turkey with Trabzonspor.

The 25-year-old has been speaking to voetbalzone.nl in his native Netherlands about his career so far and the centre-back couldn’t speak highly enough of Sunderland.

Ozturk says he was hoping to stay in Turkey but once Sunderland came in for him he had no option due to the size of the club, and talks about how Stewart Donald is returning the club to it’s family club roots:

I was happy in Turkey and wanted to stay. But if a club like Sunderland comes, that is a different story. At that moment the other options were actually gone, there was not a club that could match Sunderland.

If you see the stadium here. Pfft, it’s unbelievable, we play at home for thirty thousand men. You notice everything that this is a club that does not belong in the League One. In terms of stadium, facilities, training accommodation: it is very well arranged.

This is really a mega club, in the Netherlands this club just belongs to the top three.

The ambition is to move quickly up again. If you get relegated twice in a row, that is a blow. It is admirable to see how people deal with it. A lot has changed, the club has been taken over by new people.

The guys who have been here a bit longer, say that they had a bad year last year. The new owners try to make it into a family club, you notice that in everything. It fits well with me. The atmosphere is positive, results also help with that. When you win, it is always good. You hear people complaining less.

Although not a regular for the first team so far, Ozturk says it helps that he knows Jack Ross from their time together at Hearts and that once he gets his change, he intends to take it:

It provides a foothold that I already knew the coach from Hearts. I have had a busy period in the summer, I also got married. Everything has changed, I had to arrange everything. It was a bit of a chaos. We discussed that and he understands that. He knows my qualities and me as a person. I train well, wait for my chance and I will grab it.

He also discusses how the quality in League One has surprised him, with Ozturk believing it’s a higher quality than the Scottish Premiership and wonders how some League One teams would get on in the Eredivisie:

It was a bit of a change again, especially with football. It is a completely different level. In Turkey you had the time to play a ball around, but here you do not get that space and time.

The level in the League One is higher than expected. The people said in advance that the level would be equal to the Premiership in Scotland, but I think this is a bit higher. You do not expect it, but there are very nice teams in between. Then I wonder where they would end up in the Eredivisie.

League One is a very difficult competition, many people do not think so. Many teams play very directly, a lot is requested from you physically. Only in the league you play 46 games, then I have not even counted the cup matches. Then you can easily reach 60 matches.


Business denies Sartori rumours

Uruguayan company Union Agriculture Group (UAG), who were founded by Sunderland board member Juan Satori, have moved to deny rumours that he is to blame for the company’s liabilities.

There had been talk in the Uruguayan press that Satori had been unsuitable for a presidential run due to ‘unrecoverable debts’ at the company but in a statement, UAG refuted suggestions that they were in debt and said the rumours were made for political purposes.

The statement goes on to say that Sartori was able to attract investors from all over the world to Uruguay but that he left their board in June 2018 and is now just one of over 200 shareholders in the company.

UAG say all their bank loans are backed by land mortgages which exceed their liabilities by more than four times, have lowered their bank loans by 50% in the last four years and the total equity of the company is valued at $250m.

Sartori is expected to officially announce his run to be the National Party’s candidate for president in the next few weeks and that ambition received a boost this week with Uruguayan outlet El Acontecer reporting that he is about to receive the backing of a department of the National Party that will help his aim of being their presidential candidate.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images