Dear Roker Report,
Stewart Donald walked through door with Methven into a press conference full of excitement and determination to turn the club’s fortunes round - to us all, it was a breath of fresh air.
Things like... “reconnecting the fans with the club” “The piss taking party stops here” “It’s your club (the fans) we are just custodians” “We will be open and transparent” “We need the fans, we need you to trust us, give us a chance” “Judge us on our performance” were said.
So we did (trust them), we did this in good faith in huge numbers with hope things could finally be changing for the better. We backed them; we supported them in the voluntary seat change thinking this was the bright new beginning, bringing the club and fans together... Not the cheap labour stunt it really was. We backed them with 24,000 season ticket sales in League one, average crowds of over 30,000 in the last two seasons (breaking all sorts of attendance records for this league along the way) including a record 46,000+ Boxing day crowd), followed in huge numbers away from home, and 40,000 fans attending Wembley twice.
And yet it’s our fault.
Our blind faith and optimism slapped, no not slapped... punched in the face for being truly awesome, and let’s just add the cherry on the cake the season ticket holders the most loyal fans having to wait last in the queue for the refund.
The errors are all yours Stewart Donald - your leadership has been truly abysmal with our club and its academy stripped of any assets. Under his stewardship we’ve had our 2 worst league finishes in history, with the best budget and resources in the league. You have destroyed our club and alienated the fans, the decisions you have made has caused this situation we find ourselves in, not us.
I don’t agree with any form of abuse to you and your family but surely you knew the scrutiny would be there, especially when things are going so badly wrong? Your mistake was going into hiding when so many questions and issues arose (the use of the parachute payment money being one).
Fans became frustrated by error after error and not being kept up to date. Remember your words Stewart “it’s your club” - it doesn’t feel like it. You have disrespected the fans, the lifeblood of the club.
Sell the club now at a realistic price, not what you apparently paid, and give us proof you are paying the club its money back.
“I’ll stay as long as I’m wanted - if the fans want me to leave, I’ll leave”
Then do it gracefully, fairly and at the right price... not blaming the fans for your mistakes and frustrations. Your inability to succeed here is your own fault. The fans are the biggest asset in a sale and not the problem, so stop being bitter, stop blaming the fans and do the right thing.
Take responsibility for your actions so we can all move on and get on with our lives.
Ed’s Note [Gav]: ... I have nothing to add here. You’ve nailed it.
Dear Roker Report,
Is it just me or are others starting to wonder what’s happening with Juan Sartori? When it was announced he had acquired a 20% stake in SAFC I was delighted. He came in with powerful footballing connections, suggestions we’d look to South America for raw talent to bring over for the academy, and it seemed like he would be the real financial power behind our shiny new owners. None of this has materialised however and I’m beginning to think Juan may have played a bigger part in the recent collapse of our club than we realise.
I have no intention of defending Stewart Donald, I think he is hopelessly out of his depth, I just feel maybe things have deteriorated so quickly due to currently unknown issues. Having listened to the majority of Stewart’s interviews I don’t get the feeling he’s a malicious person, I don’t think he bought Sunderland just to asset strip us and then sell us on to the next vulture. I’m beginning to think Stewart has had his pants pulled down by Juan and is too embarrassed to come out and tell us.
Alarm bells started ringing for me as soon as it emerged Juan had paid £1 for 20% of the club. I can see a scenario where Juan had whispered all the same promises of money and resources into Stewart’s ear, promising him the world if he just gave Juan a stake in the club. Then Stewart carried on managing the club under the assumption Juan would inject funds when needed only to later realise Juan is a bit of a snake oil salesman and the funds would never come, leaving Stewart and the club high and dry.
Looking through the club finances as detailed by Chris Weatherspoon and Giles Mooney it’s difficult to see where Juan has injected any money into the club. Something that stood out to me was Stuart’s insistence that Juan could easily have provided the same financial boost to the club we received from FPP. Why didn’t he then? Stewart constantly harps on about the club being dept free, why take out a loan from FPP? He continues to insist FPP have no real interest in us as a football club so of what use is it being in dept to them when one of our owners supposedly has the funds needed?
I think this theory also helps explain Stewart’s ludicrously high asking price for the club. He’s essentially given 20% of the club to Juan for free, he’s reluctant to lose anymore on the deal in my opinion. If he manages to sell at the £37m he claims to have paid for it he’ll only receive £29.6m (less if you factor Charlie in) and Juan would stand to make £7.4m from his £1 investment. I also found it interesting after reading the notes from Stewart’s meeting with RAWA that Juan didn’t get a mention. Stewart desperately tried to deflect the blame anywhere he could (settling on us) but didn’t think it was worth mentioning the man who owns a fifth of the club? I doubt this is down to loyalty on Stewart’s part, I get the feeling they want us to completely forget about Juan so we don’t start asking tough questions and Stewart can keep a little bit of his pride intact.
I know I could be well wide of the mark with this train of thought but I’d like to hear what other fans think. I’d also like to remind other fans even though we’re rightfully fed up of Stewart and his twisting narrative maybe we should be directing at least 20% of our frustration towards Juan, he’s certainly played some part in our clubs decline.
All the best lads,
Ed’s Note [Gav]: It’s an interesting perspective, and I completely understand where you’re coming from. Stewart and Charlie didn’t do themselves any favours by promising fans on more than one occasion that Juan would be getting more involved, when the truth of it is that he’s only been seen on Wearside on a small handful of occasions and at Wembley when we got to the final of the Checkatrade Trophy.
We were told Juan would be getting more involved and then mere days later, he announced he was running for presidency in Uruguay. We were told he was working on bringing South American talent to our academy, but it was nothing more than talk. We were told that he was moving back to the UK and would be more visible, but he’s been nowhere to be seen.
Truthfully, the sooner these absent owners are gone, the better.