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Fan Letters: “Could Sunderland fans own their own football club, and how bad are the debts?”

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Roker Report reader Colter Lasley wonders how possible fan ownership of Sunderland AFC is, and whether or not enough supporters would get behind such an initiative. Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in the next edition.

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Dear Roker Report,

This season of on field incompetency has left me like many other fans in despair, and without hope for there ever being a change. It seems like year after year passes and we always seem in the same state of incompetency.

I have come to the conclusion that complaining about the destitute state of Sunderland is not good or productive for the club, or for my own mental health; I must at least try to see if there is some way I can help.

I think to protect the club and its future, one solution might be for the fans to purchase it, set up a board, and run it like many German clubs. So, I have three questions.

First, is it even possible for the fans to purchase the club?

Second, it is my understanding that for the club to be purchased, new owners would have to accept responsibility for most of the club’s debts as well as operational expenses, do you know where the exact costs might be found?

Third, do you all have a suggestion on how might I go about trying to find if there is enough widespread support for this route to be pursued?

Sincerely,

Colter Lasley

Ed’s note: 1. Absolutely - through the creation of a supporter’s trust it’s entirely possible. Not easy, but possible. Supporter’s Direct are an organisation set up specifically to help fans gain ownership and create supporter’s trusts at their own clubs, and their people are fantastic. 2. The latest set of accounts are difficult to gauge - the next ones will be available next month I think, which should give us a better idea of what debts the club have. That said, you can view the latest set of accounts by clicking here - a round number would have the debt at around £140m, though that will have been significantly decreased in the period between July 2016 (the date on the latest accounts) and now. 3. Anything like this would need serious backing, the help of the media and key public figures, patience and perseverance. If someone of importance came forward on behalf of the fans with something really considered and serious, I do think that fans would get behind them.

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Dear Roker Report,

Gutless, spineless, cowardly, disgusting, unprofessional, deplorable, woeful, wretched, pathetic - just a few words that describe the majority of Sunderland’s current players.

It’s annoying hearing about how we’re going to be rid of these players in the summer anyways - c’mon. Who on Earth is going to buy Lee Cattermole out of his three-year contract, or Jason Steele out of his long term deal? Who in the right mind will pay decent money for Lamine Kone, Didier Ndong, Bryan Oviedo, JACK RODWELL, Aiden McGeady, Callum McManaman, etc? The list goes on, and on, and on, and on...

We have to hope and pray that a new owner is simply waiting to see where our fate lies, because without some fresh leadership I don’t see how next season can be an opportunity to kick on.

We need someone to rule with an iron fist, showing to the players that they no longer run this show. Cattermole and O’Shea need to be the first two peddled before we can improve on the pitch, but I wait with baited breath on that front.

This doesn’t really feel like my club any more, and that’s sad. For years and years we’ve been an average club plodding along but to see us fall so far short of expectations is genuinely heartbreaking.

These fans deserve better.

Glenn Scurfield

Ed’s note: I agree with the main point you make, Glenn, about ownership. Without a new owner I don’t see how our fortunes improve in any league. This team we have now would probably struggle in League One too.