Dear Roker Report,
I am a long standing season ticket holder and in my view Stewart is the man we need to get behind right now. Yes he has made mistakes he freely admits he underestimated the size of the club, the problems within it and the depth of passion and ownership felt by the fans. While as a fan I believe it is and adhere to the emotion that it is ‘our club’. In this day and age we are lucky to have an owner who gets this, because in reality it’s his club!
I would hope that those people that do not understand this are advised by those that do that this situation could change quickly and not necessarily for the better. It is rare in these times for an owner to feel aligned with the clubs fans and sadly it is only after they leave that this is discovered. This club has been through some rocky and hard times over the last 30 years with more directors/owners and certainly managers than most clubs. What we need is stability and steady progress, don’t get me wrong I know we all want everything to be great now immediately, I DO TOO, but that’s simply not realistic. We no longer have a Premier or Championship football team, we have a top third League one side, capable (with some minor tinkering) of gaining promotion, but I do believe we retain the potential to be a Premiership club again after a spell in the championship of maybe 2/3 seasons.
I know lots of people won’t agree (or like this) but we have been here so many times before, even before the Premier was introduced we were very much a yo-yo club between the first and second divisions for years. To have a real shot at stable growth and progress we need someone like Stewart Donald (and I really hope he is the one to do it) to stabilise the club and start the gradual regrowth and progress we all feel we deserve. We have no right to this however, and it will require hard work from all those involved in the club, the fans and the supporter groups (who often do not contrary to their belief represent all fans opinions) to pull together with realistic goals in order that the greater sustainable aim can be reached and maintained but there are no guarantees.
I think we are part way there, there are allegedly interested parties (we think) in the Sartori and Dell people etc. who may get involved but I think we need Stewart Donald with his boyhood passion to help forge and push this on and yes he will make more mistakes but we are in this together we all get frustrated and it looks easy from where we are but unfortunately there are no easy fixes so let’s just get behind the man and his dream, after all it’s OUR DREAM TOO.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Mick, thanks for writing in. Just a note before we start: Roker Report do not claim to have a monopoly on fans’ opinions - I can say that because I’m of a similar opinion to you on this matter, and have written about it quite a bit over the past few months. Essentially, I think Donald bought Sunderland because it was an exciting project emotionally, and also because it was a really good business opportunity to make money at some point - and I don’t think there’s much wrong with that. I also liked last season’s enthusiasm and the willingness to involve fans in the club’s revival, though that waned after Wembley round two. Ultimately, I agree that Donald did seem to understand how important the fans are, which is important, but he needs to remember that moving forward because the entire ownership team have felt distant at times this season. The only issue I have is the mixed messages, initially we were told that parachute monies weren’t used to buy the club, but then they were. We were told FPP was a takeover, then investment, but then it turned out to be a loan secured against the academy and the SoL. I think the realism you discussed in your letter needs to be embraced throughout the club if we are to find the sustainable growth we all want.
Dear Roker Report,
I understand fans wanting immediate success but when he took over, the club finances were horrendous. So yes he had to sort that out. Don’t think it’s all Donalds fault as far as recruitment is concerned as he brought in the people Ross wanted. Obviously Maja sale was a huge mistake, should have kept him as he would have wanted to impress any suiters looking at him ready for a summer move. So that would have been a win / win situation.
As for Ross, I don’t think he realised the standard of players required for league 1 when he first arrived and that’s why some of the players he brought in weren’t up to scratch. It was definitely the right time for Ross to leave when he did go, but personally I would have got rid after play off final and brought in Nigel Adkins to manage.
Now he has got the finances somewhere near what he wants, I think now is the time he should be judged going forward. Give him & Parky another transfer window to see how they get on, as he is still playing with Ross’s players.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Ivan, I agree with a lot of what you have to say - specifically that we seemingly underestimated the caliber of player required to do well in this league and probably should have made the managerial change sooner. I hope that the club are going to be in a decent financial situation moving forward, but the FPP loan is a bit of a worry for me considering it went from a takeover, to an investment, to a loan secured against the club’s assets. Ultimately, I do think we need to be patient whilst also being critical of things that we’re uncertain about. Thanks for writing in!
Dear Roker Report,
Be careful what you wish for, new ownership could run the club into financial ruins with similar signings and contracts of the de Fanti era which Donald has gone a long way to freeing us from. He clearly cares and I would rather see us eventually reach the Premiership financially stable rather than throwing money around haphazardly which may come back and cripple the club and bring its downfall. If Ellis short hadn’t cleared the debt that’s what would have happened and I doubt the next owner after Donald will be as generous if it were to go pear shaped.
Ed’s Note [Tom]: Hi Alan, thanks for writing in. It’s a difficult line to draw between offering support and giving criticism. You’re right in that there’s a chance we might not have great ownership in the future, but fans should also be able speak out against mistakes they think are being made by the current ownership. Sustainable growth is exactly what we need right now, I hope that whatever happens with the club moving forward, that its best interests are put at the forefront of any deal.