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EXCLUSIVE: Sunderland owner Stewart Donald on the Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong situations

In an exclusive sit down interview today with Roker Report, Sunderland owner Stewart Donald spoke at length - amongst many other things - about the situations with Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji.

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Stewart Donald joined us in the Roker Rapport Podcast studio earlier today for the first time since July and, as you can imagine, he had a lot to discuss.

One of the main points of discussion was surrounding the future of wantaway African duo Didier Ndong and Papy Djilobodji. Both players failed to return to training and have stayed away all summer as they looked to find new clubs.

Speaking to our host Connor Bromley, Donald explained how Djilobodji’s situation is slightly different than Ndong’s:

Didier Ndong has shown no interest in returning to Sunderland, so he’s not here.

Papy has turned up this week but the reality of it is that we agreed with Papy specifically. He requested not to return in July as he’s going to get a move to another club, we said that’s fine, we’ll have an agreement in place but obviously we’re not going to pay you if you’re not returning to training.

Which he accepted. That was the situation for July but we said that you have to keep yourself in a certain condition.

Both players were linked with moves elsewhere, with numerous clubs showing interest over the course of the summer but no move materialised. Not through a lack of effort on the club’s part, according to the chairman:

The players expressed a desire not to be here, we placed a valuation on them and it’s down to them and their agents to find a football club. We tried to help them find a football club as we don’t want players who have expressed an interest not to be here.

At the same time we’ve been reminding them of their duty to return to training but they haven’t done that.

We tried really hard to help them facilitate that [finding a new club] but the long and short of it is, the main transfer window shut and neither of them have got a new club.

Although he did return to the club earlier in the week, Donald explained how Djilobodji had a conversation with Jack Ross upon arriving at the Academy of Light:

Papy returned, as I understand it he had a conversation with Jack Ross where he said he feels as if he hasn’t done anything wrong.

He turned up and he had an obligation to turn up in a certain condition, he hasn’t turned up in the condition you would want. The following day, training would commence and he never made the training session.

Donald went on to explain that the club are going through the legal process with both players and how he believes the duo have clearly shown gross misconduct towards the club:

The players are obviously being devalued as we speak because they are not playing football and if you’re trying to sell a footballer, you get less for them if they are not fit.

It’s not our fault they are not fit, we didn’t ask them not to turn up, we didn’t ask them not to keep themselves in trim but they don’t want to be here.

I don’t know in any industry, where by that is acceptable, where the employer should be expected to pay their wages and let them come back in. We don’t think that is our stance, we don’t think that is acceptable behaviour and to me that is gross misconduct.

We are going through the legal process with that and we’ll have to fight our corner.

I do not see morally in any way shape or form how the football club should spend one more pound on two footballers who have decided that because they do not want to play football for Sunderland in League One, that they are just not going to turn up.

How is that not gross misconduct?

That is just a sample of his conversation regarding the situation with Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong - you can listen to his interview in full from first thing tomorrow morning when the Roker Rapport podcast is released on iTunes, acast and YouTube.

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