Despite the fact Sunderland AFC haven’t kicked a ball in just over four months, the debate surrounding the club and its future has rumbled on, and shows no signs of relenting.
Rumours surrounding the potential sale of the club, perpetuated by reports in the local media in recent days, appear to suggest that whilst there are people out there willing to take Sunderland off Stewart Donald’s hands, he’s not necessarily playing ball.
Craig Johns of the Chronicle revealed on Saturday that he’s spoken to a willing buyer, who has provided the newspaper with evidence of their proof of funds, but Donald was unwilling to even enter a conversation with the unnamed group.
Sammy Yu - the former aide to ex-Birmingham City owner Carsen Yeung - has told the Daily Mirror that he too is struggling to enter dialogue with the Sunderland owner, though the Chronicle have claimed that “it is understood that Donald is not willing to sell to Yu because of his lack of trust in his reliability, while he also doubts he would pass the EFL’s fit and proper tests, particularly given his connections to Carson Yeung’s ill-fated Birmingham ownership.”
It would appear that Donald is, or was, completely against entering negotiations with anyone from China. In May 2019, former Sunderland striker Michael Chopra contacted Roker Report in order to gain a pathway to Donald as he claimed he had a Chinese consortium willing to buy the club, but when informed of Chopra’s intention to open dialogue, Donald told Roker Report that he simply wasn’t interested in speaking to any Chinese businessmen - why, we aren’t entirely sure.
Therefore, you’d think that it would be beneficial not only to Donald and the club, but to the fanbase, if there was a clearer understand of just what kind of owner he’s willing to sell to.
It’s widely understood that Donald is refusing to budge on his asking price, believed to be in excess of £35m, and this is despite the club depreciating in value since Donald first attempted to shift Sunderland to Mark Campbell in the summer of 2019.
We’re repeatedly told that Donald will only sell to the ‘right’ people - so, just what defines any new potential owner as being ‘right’ for Sunderland?
Is it simply a case that he only wants to sell to someone who can meet his price in full?
Does he only want to sell to people who intend to do right by the club?
Does Stewart still want to retain a stake in the club, and thus a place on the board?
Simply put - where on earth does Stewart Donald stand right now?
All recent decisions made by the club’s board - appointing a new CEO, appointing a new secretary, offering new contracts, tell us we’re planning our recruitment for the new campaign - would suggest that Donald’s short term ambition is to remain as Sunderland owner. If this is the case, would he not be better off being honest about it?
Stewart - are you staying, or not?
It’s simple. Yes, or no.
Is there even a tiny chance that you’re going to sell this club any time soon, or are you having another crack at promotion? Everything would, to me, suggest that you want another go at this, regardless of what the fans want.
If that’s the case, then tell us!
This ownership said on day one that their intention was to be open and honest with the supporters. Whilst that relationship has severely deteriorated over time due to a series of misleading decisions, bad communication and poor PR moves, that shouldn’t mean that we should be kept in the dark over something as important as this.
You surely won’t find a single supporter who isn’t worried about the club’s future. Fewer than 11,000 season card holders have renewed for the upcoming season, some good players have already left upon the expiration of their contracts, we have the potential of a salary cap looking likely - something that will put us on an even footing with the likes of Rochdale - and an ownership so rudderless and leaderless that it’s hard to see how the club can even manage to compete next season in the third tier.
Clarity is needed. Obviously, the sale of the club at some point soon would be fantastic, but if the current owner’s stance is that handing it off in the near future isn’t likely then we really need to know this. The new season could start as early as late August if rumours are to be believed, and it’s vital we’re able to plan properly for that, right now.
So, Stewart - tell us where you stand.
If you aren’t flogging it now, then tell us.
Tell us why. Stop the bullsh*t. Stop the fluff. Stop the spin.
For once, please just be honest about where you stand.
The fans deserve to know.
P.S. - The Twitter thread below is well worth your time, and perhaps best explains why Sunderland fans are having a hard time believing anything that these owners say or do right now. Give it a read and just remind yourselves of some of the things they’ve said since they arrived - and perhaps pass it in the direction of anyone you know who still stands by this ownership and think they’re what’s best for the club. You’re doing them a favour.
A small series titled 'Cataloguing a Horribly Apparent Need for Cash Emanating from those Running Sunderland'.— Chris (@christoph_21) July 12, 2020
Or, if that's too much of a mouthful, 'CHANCERS':