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FAN LETTERS: “Stewart Donald will help Sunderland to become a real community club!”

Roker Report reader Lee Longstaff sings the praises of Stewart Donald, for both his unheralded fan engagement and the transfer policy which ensures a brighter future. Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in a future edition!

Sunderland v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Stewart Donald is a breath of fresh air within the Football League. He seems to be a real football supporter and understands the fans longing to be involved in our football club. The level of engagement with you guys, on social media and directly with fans is unheard of and I am excited at the opportunity for Sunderland to become a real community club.

I hope we smash the attendance records for League One and build the Fortress of Light with banners and noise and an engaged crowd making it a great atmosphere but more importantly a ground away teams hate playing at.

I have no worries about the transfer situation, smart business so far and I am sure more will follow. The biggest task is ridding ourselves of overpriced makeweights which have stolen a living at Sunderland and now believe they are too good to play in League One. They should hang their heads in shame and let’s ship them out as quickly as possible. The wage bill is obscene for what we have watched over recent years and if Stewart sorts that out we will have a solid foundation to build upon.

The fans demanding the club throw money around seem to have forgotten that it’s that type of mismanagement that got us into the mess we are in. I want a better model that brings through players such as the likes of Henderson and Pickford. Whether now or in the future Sunderland shouldn’t be looking at the Premier League model of obscene transfer fees and grossly-disproportionate wages for average players who are just mercenaries. That bubble will burst sooner or later and will take down a few clubs. Rather than throwing away £10m and 70k a week on another ‘Rodwell’, I would prefer to see such money ploughed into coaching and playing facilities that will result in a stream of local youngsters having access to the facilities and opportunities needed to make it in football and play for Sunderland. These may be costly at the start but look at the return, Henderson and Pickford - £50M?

A world-class academy rooted in the surrounding communities will reap endless dividends for Sunderland.

Can’t wait for the season to start; looking forward to changing the seats and hope there will be other opportunities for the fans to take ownership of maintaining and improving the ground as we look to return the SoL to what it was like when it first opened.

All the best,

Lee Longstaff

Ed’s Note [Alex]: You’ve echoed my enthusiasm in every respect and I couldn’t have put that better myself.

The tight-knit relationships Stewart Donald is forming with the fans through both his Twitter correspondence and appearances on the Roker Rapport is something unheard of from the owner of such a high-profile club. It’s no surprise that attendance figures are so high despite the turmoil recently endured; the owner has reconnected an understandably apathetic fanbase by showing us all that he’s one of us - a football fan who just wants to see a good, honest club do well. It makes for a stark contrast when you compare him with Martin Bain, a man in his high castle caring only for how the club’s cost-cutting could benefit his reputation.

As for our transfer policy, I’m also amazed as you presumably are to see that people are demanding that big money be thrown around when we not only have to sign about fifteen more players, but we also have to steer clear of mercenaries who think they’re doing the club a favour just by having their names on the team sheet. If all our recruitment goes well, the lads we bring in will guide us to success and potentially be sold for profit, allowing a financially beneficial cycle to repeat. This is exactly the kind of system I’ve been hoping for for years, and now it could finally happen.

Bring on the new season, the new signings, the new seats and everything else in between! Ha’way the lads!