As the gates of Glastonbury Festival opened to the public at 8am today, the psychedelic trip of supporting Sunderland AFC broke into a new lucidity.
Sunderland AFC announced that Kyril Louis Dreyfus and Juan Sartori have increased their hold of the club and now own a combined 81% of shares, with the Swiss heir taking a majority 51% stake in the club and the Uruguayan senator increasing his holding to 30%.
The remaining 19% stake will sit with Stewart Donald who will, we understand, remain as a silent partner. This will undoubtedly mean a lingering concern about his continued presence within the “ownership group”, but the fact the spectre of Charlie Methven has finally been exorcised from the club is cause for relief and a mild celebration across the board.
No details of the money involved have been released, but a sense of relief at the prospect of longer-term stability of ownership and the Louis-Dreyfus-Sartori alliance being able to invest what’s required to make us a sustainable club at this level and push forward in supporting what Alex Neil and Mel Reay require for the first team squads’ futures. Donald, it must be presumed, has agreed to put in his share too.
Thankfully, the club has learned a lesson or two from the last few years in its communication of this news, with the shareholdings set out clearly on the website. KLD then put out a short statement confirming that no further changes to the shareholding would be happening, ending all speculation about other potential bids:
Today marks an important step as we continue to rebuild Sunderland AFC. Following the 2021-22 season, it was the intention of Juan and I to ensure the ongoing speculation relating to the Club’s shareholding was addressed as soon as possible.
Our ownership group has been consolidated and there will be no further sale of shares to a third-party buyer.
We remain committed to our strategy of delivering long-term success and sustainability and together, alongside our dedicated staff and loyal supporters, I believe we can now move forward as one unified football club.
It will be interesting to see whether KLD now speaks at length to either the Unfiltered podcast or the mainstream media to outline what these changes mean in practice. It would be nice to hear from Sartori too about his increased involvement, who by hitting the 30% will have to go through the EFL’s Owners & Directors test.
The club’s statement made clear that governance would not be affected, so we should not expect the make-up of the board to be changing in response to this news, but the status of the loan made by the club to Madrox will be one important question that requires full and frank answers from the newly reformed ownership group.
The end of Methven’s shareholding will bring a warm glow to supporters. From grandiose statements of a “Dortmund model” intent, podcast appearances with Roker Rapport and Wise Men Say, talk ins, banging EDM through an as-yet unfixed sound system, viral memes, and salmon-coloured chinos, it has at least been colourful.
He will no doubt point to the cost-cutting initiatives in the first year of Madrox’s ownership as being vital to stabilising the club financially after Ellis Short’s largess. But I doubt anyone will be sad to see this episode in the long history of our club come to an end - he was, ultimately, ridiculously uneducated when it comes to the sentiments, needs, and desires of the Sunderland fanbase.
I hope this brings an end to the ownership saga for now, with the threat of the ridiculous TFT bid having been brought to an abrupt end with this deal. Emerging out of the smoke and mirrors, Sunderland can now look forward to a summer of transfers and kit reveals like a normal football club and we here at Roker Report can bring to an end over four years of writing about this stuff.
Chill, and enjoy the music.
Chairman Kyril Louis-Dreyfus provides an update to supporters after increasing his ownership stake in Sunderland AFC.— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) June 22, 2022