Dear Roker report,
I believe that everyone is being very hard on SD. He bought our club in it’s darkest hour and turned it around. He re-engaged us and has only done what is best for the club. I’m not saying this just because of Series 2 of Sunderland ‘til I Die, I have always believed that he is the right man to take us forward. It is evident that he genuinely cares about the club and us fans. Everybody attacking SD about using the parachute payments to fund his takeover of the club needs to understand that if SD hadn’t used them to buy the club then what do you think would have happened? Ellis Short would still own the club and the parachute payments would have gone straight into his bank account.
I believe that SD should not sell the club entirely but should instead sell roughly 1/3 or 1/4 of the club. That would still leave him with overall control and with a large financial backing. Remember FFP Sunderland with Glen Fuhrman, Robert Platek and John Phelan (and possibly Micheal Dell)? It is believed that they were not going to takeover Sunderland but buy a minority share in the club so long as SD stayed in charge. Let’s remember that these 3 are billionaires in their own right, who knows what we could achieve with their financial backing and under SD’s leadership.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Malachi, thanks for writing in. Regarding the parachute payments, I think many fans are more upset that the whole situation wasn’t made clear from the start. Donald himself stated initially that, “We’ve given Ellis £40m, so that’s the deal, and in return Ellis has tidied up his debt and that’s now gone from the football club.” However, recently Donald has stated that, “Madrox agreed a deal worth £40 million with Ellis Short. This was £15 million plus last summer’s parachute payment of £25 million – which came in just after we took over and was ring-fenced to pay off the last bit of bank debt.” I agree in the sense that the money was more than likely going to service debts in some way, shape or form, but I think fans have this lurking sense, whether right or wrong, that they were misled on the whole issue and that has bred uncertainty.
Moving forward, I think a lot of concern centres around the possibility that the current ownership team maybe don’t have the funds to keep the club progressing. The FPP interest was thoroughly exciting, yet ended up with what looks to be a £10 million loan secured against the club’s assets, and their interest has cooled off rapidly since the turn of the year - though you’re right in noting that Stewart Donald did say that they would only invest with his presence still at the club. Their position is uncertain, but Donald did say that, “I think if they were going to buy it, they would have done so already. They invested the money on the basis that we would be there to oversee it.” As such, a takeover seems unlikely at present.
I think most people can see that Stewart Donald does care about the club - like you said in your letter. However, I also think people are anxious about his ability to help the club progress. Donald noted himself that failure to achieve promotion would have been a bitter pill to swallow, and fans are anxious to see if our owner will be able to help the club progress now that the parachute payments are finished. The loan from FPP has also raised questions about the club’s financial status. Fans have been told that Juan Sartori is waiting in the wings to invest, but have yet to see action. The newest set of finances will be released soon and they might well help clear the situation up for us fans. I think people are right to be cautious, though abusive and malicious actions should not be tolerated by anyone.