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Fan Letters: Stewart Donald, Ellis Short & Sunderland’s parachute payments - what’s the crack?

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With more questions regarding Sunderland’s parachute payments, the morals of Stewart Donald, and Ellis Short, we attempt once and for all to clear things up. Email us: RokerReport@Yahoo.co.uk!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read the Dave Taggart email and as you know from my previous emails, I agree with him. I am really concerned that the passion of our supporters is being exploited. In 1978 I was on George Taylor’s Sports-Time, Tyne Tees Show. I was honoured to be called the supporter of the year (I lived in Kent and went to every single match for two seasons). I am still around and my passion for our club is as strong as ever. I have seen it all over my 74 years and it is as plain as day, that we are just a vehicle for our owners to make a killing. No more than that.

Of course they have engaged with the fans and portrayed themselves, falsely, as devoted fans. That’s the least they had to do, to pull this off and get their millions.

I will ask the question again - will SD put back our parachute payments he used to buy his shares or is it going to be lost in a maze of bank accounts as was the payments made to ES?

You are clearly very passionate about our club, so surely you must be concerned that we just might be shafted and left with nothing.

P.S - It’s quite sad that you just don’t get what is going on and all you say is what you are told by SD. Our parachute payments £26 Million+ were used, against the rules, to pay for SD shares. Is there a reason that you will not ask the question - will SD put back all this money as soon as he gets paid for his shares? As long as all this is paid back, who cares how much profit he makes.

As you say it’s business but using our parachute payments for his benefit is bordering on criminal.

Sam Lucas

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Without getting into the ins and outs of accountancy and financial jargon (because quite frankly, as a layman, I don’t fully understand it) let’s put this into pretty basic terms.

When Stewart Donald took over as majority owner of Sunderland AFC it was in the worst financial position of any club in the EFL. Twelve months later, this is the ONLY club in the EFL that is debt free, one which has a queue of potential investors waiting eagerly to get involved with what is now an entirely solvent business.

Re: that parachute money (£25m or so) - it was always part of the deal that Ellis would take it. Ellis already desperately needed that money to pay down the crippling bank debt, so that 25 million was going to go to SBC whoever happened to be owner in June 2018. It is also worth appreciating that this - helping make a relegated club less insolvent - is precisely the point of parachute payments. The fact that Ellis paid off an additional £150million is a MASSIVE bonus for us, but that £25million was always going to go on the relegation hangover, WHOEVER was the club owner.

That much has been made clear repeatedly by both Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven in various interviews they’ve conducted both with Roker Report and other outlets over the last year.

All Ellis wanted for his shares in the club was around £15m, which he was duly paid by Donald. He wanted the £25m in parachute payments. In return he wrote off a substantial chunk of the club’s debt to both himself and the bank, SBC, which is why we are now a fully solvent club.

Fair trade?

In addition - the club were paying £8m just in interest to SBC prior to Donald’s ownership. Sunderland’s entire ticketing revenue totals somewhere in the region of £8m. In effect, all the money the fans were putting into the club through attending games totalled the amount that we were paying in interest on our bank loans. Obviously now that’s not the case, and that £8m of money injected into the club’s coffers by the supporters over the course of the season goes straight back into the club where, in years previous, it was going straight back out.

I’ll also add that the club was losing £25million a year when Donald took it over, and he stuck his personal neck on the line with the EFL to the tune of £50million which is what it would have cost him if he failed to turn the club around.

So, with all said and done, Stewart Donald stands to retain a stake in the club whilst also selling off the majority of his shares, thus making a profit on his original outlay, whilst bringing on board investors that twelve months ago wouldn’t have touched us with a barge pole.

He deserves credit for being able to turn the club around in such a significant manner in such a short space of time, not further questioning of his morals and abuse because the evidence shows us he’s done such a good job that we are now able to move forward at pace as a club.

If that’s not good enough for us then I’m not sure we’ll ever be satisfied.

PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

In the event that Mr Ross leaves after ten or so games into next season there is in my opinion only one name in the hat, and his name is the son of the one that got away, Mr Clough of Burton Albion.

On watching them at the stadium last season or watching them on the telly they had a pattern of play, they were a fast football playing side, their players knew each other’s strengths.

In my opinion they will be one of the sides to beat next season. If we do get rid of Mr Ross early doors next season, then surely his name must be top of the list.

A Lynn

Ed’s Note [Damian]: I don’t think you’re alone in sounding out Clough as a viable option for the manager’s spot should it become vacant - I’ve certainly heard a fair few share the same opinion.

I suppose the question remains though as to the manner of Ross’s exit. If he can’t get the squad he needs for example, who’s to say Clough would be able to make the most of it, or would even want to? The future is anyone’s guess.