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ITHICS Fanzine: Every Sunderland fan deserves an opinion - but let’s stick together

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“We all love the club and we all want to see it succeed, no matter who is in charge. Let’s not lose sight of that when debating how we can get out of this hellhole” writes Mark Egan.

Danny Roberts

#DonaldOut! And why not. It’s not like he’s done a fantastic job as chairman of Sunderland. The club has spent the last few weeks languishing in its lowest ever league position, with relegation to League Two not impossible.

The sacking of Jack Ross looked to have backfired. The supposed takeover by American billionaires turned out to be a loan, secured against the club’s assets, apparently earmarked for ground improvements rather than new players.

Almost all of the directors who seemed to do things have resigned and Stewart Donald himself had gone into hiding. Who was going to shout #DonaldIn?

Sunderland AFC

But the coordinated demand for the chairman to leave probably wasn’t such a smart idea. When a manager’s position becomes untenable – when the bad results keep on coming – there comes a point when he can just be sacked. One day he is in charge, the next day he is gone, and all the people associated with him go too. It’s not that simple with the club’s owner, though.

Donald can’t simply walk away and nor, frankly, would we want him to. When he sells, it has to be a good deal for us as well as for him, a deal which safeguards the club’s future. Trying to make the owner’s position untenable isn’t likely to encourage him to look after our interests. A firesale to the first chancer who comes along is not a great idea.

Nor does it make a lot of sense to demand the departure of someone who clearly already wanted to leave.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Behind the smoke-and-mirrors of the various podcast and media statements by Donald and Methven, it’s now clear that their strategy was to sort out the club’s finances, get a quick promotion, and sell up. They’d make a nice little profit and we’d be happy to be back in the Championship. Job done and if that’s what had happened I’d have said ‘thanks very much lads’.

But it didn’t happen and, sadly for us, there was no plan B. We should have spent this summer gearing up for that 100 point season but instead the Likely Lads were trying to get out with that profit despite not delivering the promotion and it didn’t work.

Who knew that American billionaires would see through a small-town insurance salesman and a man with the largest collection of mustard-coloured trousers in the UK. So Stewart Donald is only going to “out” if we do get promoted this year or if he decides this summer that the profit opportunity has gone.

I only hope there is a decent consortium out there which wants to take the club forward and we don’t get saddled with someone deeply dodgy. The thing to remember is that we have absolutely no say in the ownership of the club.

Sunderland AFC

Meanwhile, out where it counts, Phil Parkinson has quietly changed the mood by sticking to his game plan and starting to deliver a few results. Eight points from four games over Christmas was, actually, not bad. All of a sudden I am looking up the table, not down, and – whisper it – promotion is back on!

Best not to get over-excited. A couple of dodgy performances and we’ll be sunk back into the gloom. But let’s give credit where it’s due. Parkinson was under tremendous pressure, because we all thought he was a dud, but now – I don’t know – perhaps we are turning around.

Back in the boardroom, Donald’s response to the #DonaldOut campaign was a masterful press notice – easily the best of his reign – which neatly positioned the fan groups as unfair, unreliable, hysterical and out of touch with the majority of fans.

This has set fan against fan on social media, distracting attention from the real issues. I was surprised by the whole #DonaldOut thing and I didn’t really agree with it but I respect the opinions of the people behind it and I defend their right to express themselves as they did.

I also respect the opinions of those who think Stewart Donald is getting an unfairly bad press, and those who think he is a chancer who should never have been allowed near the club. We all love the club and we all want to see it succeed, no matter who is in charge. Let’s not lose sight of that when debating how we can get out of this hellhole.