Dear Roker Report,
I hear Stewart Donald and Juan Sartori have sold shares of Sunderland AFC to an American and his consortium.
What are Mr Donald and Mr Sartori doing with the millions they get from the sale, are they putting it back into the club or putting it into their bank accounts?
Ed’s Note [Damian]: Well presumably Jeff if they were indeed to sell up and move on the money they’ve earned would go into their own pockets. That is, after all, the overarching purpose of any business transaction.
I’m not quite sure what you would expect them to do in this scenario?
Let’s assume for a moment that it’s true and they have accepted this deal and it goes through without a hitch - how would you like them to spend whatever profit they see? At the last time of asking the debt had been cleared, and the purpose of selling shares would be to bring new investment to the club.
So with a clean slate and fresh investment (allegedly a rung or two above what the current owners could feasibly bring to the table alone) the scenario would be such that there is no current financial plight that would require profits to be desperately funnelled back into the club - something we often called for in recent years through a necessity that is no longer there.
The facilities are already top class, the stadium is one of the largest in the country and any new investor will have the funds and remit of supporting transfers and recruitment going forward. I don’t think this is a case of selling the club to random bidders and skipping away with ill-gotten gains.
While new investors bring a whole bunch of new questions to the fore, it’s important to bear in mind that modern football is a machine fuelled by cold, hard cash. It is a lucrative business full of ambitious businessmen.
It’s often a far cry from the tribalism of fandom, and it rarely plays out in the most romantic of ways, but the trick to success in football today is not steering clear of big financial backers, but rather finding a way to harmonise the financial heavyweights we’re speaking of now with the sense of community and leadership accountability that we for example have seen in the last year or so.
Where Ellis Short is one extreme - unaccountable but remarkably generous, all things considered - and Stewart Donald is (almost) another - by his own admission perhaps too forthcoming and engaging - perhaps the most desirable outcome would be a happy medium.
That’s something that wouldn’t necessarily be provided by one single entity, but something which could come into being by wedding the strengths of the current owners and the new investors.