In an exclusive conversation with the Sunderland Echo - more of which will be made available by the local newspaper - Charlie Methven has given further details on the now-confirmed investment made in the club by FPP Sunderland Limited, the group formed by American businessmen John Phelan, Glen Fuhrman and Rob Platek.
Phil Smith has revealed that Michael Dell is believed to be involved but in a passive role, and that whilst initial talks were regarding the group taking a controlling share they will not be on the shareholding register of the club - though they are investing an eight-figure sum that will be used to boost the club’s recruitment and academy structures, as well as the Stadium of Light and other infrastructure.
Speaking about future involvement from Juan Sartori, Methven clarified that fans can expect to see and hear a lot more from the Uruguayan businessman on a more regular basis, saying:
Juan is in the first stages of his first political career in Uruguay, but he will here on a much more regular basis going forward. He, Stewart and I put a substantial extra chunk of money into the club before this investment a few weeks ago, he is very engaged in the future direction of the club. He’s speaking to us two to three times a week at the moment and I think people can expect to see him an awful lot more going forward.
And talking about the details of the deal, the Sunderland Executive Director said:
The deal that we’ve signed is for FPP Sunderland to invest a very substantial sum into our management of the club. Really it’s to embark on phase two of the rebuild of Sunderland, having had a gruelling 18 months stripping everything back to ensure there’s no wastage anywhere.
It’s now time to start building again. We’ve always been clear that would require a bit of investment, from our very early interviews and podcasts, and we said that it was no good suddenly looking for it when we needed it.
We needed to be ahead of the game and the good thing about this is that it will enable us to do the things we know need to be done to take Sunderland to the next level.
This is about the medium to long term things that need to be put in place for Sunderland to reach its potential. There’s a large scouting network now being put in place by Tony Coton, including substantial numbers of scouts in this country, Scandanavia and elsewhere.
There’s going to be substantial investment into recruitment in the academy, and things that are hopefully going to be able to take the fan experience to the next level in terms of infrastructure and there’ll be an announcement in the near future on what that looks like.
Basically, the investment will allow us to run the club in a measured, strategic way.
It’s easy to underestimate how many clubs outside the Premier League are living hand-to-mouth and one month to the next, it makes it very difficult to plan strategically whereas this development enables us to plan and do things properly.
Our agreement is confidential and I wouldn’t want to speak for the investors on that, but obviously this is a very large sum of money for an investment outside the Premier League and will enable the club to have strategic certainty for the next couple of years.
It’s a very significant cash injection at any level outside of the Premier League.