Sunderland owner Stewart Donald puts club up for sale
The League One team announced the news in an official statement, which followed calls by supporters for the club to be put up for sale immediately amid claims that trust between fans and the boardroom had eroded.
‘Given these circumstances, and Stewart Donald’s sincere commitment on his arrival at Sunderland AFC that “I won’t outstay my welcome”, the board feels that it has no option but to sell the club,’ the Sunderland statement read.
‘That process has now commenced. Owing to confidentiality agreements, there will be no further updates until a preferred bidder is identified.’
Oxford-based Donald, the former owner of non-league Eastleigh FC, bought Sunderland from US businessman Ellis Short for UK£40 million (US$52.6 million) in May 2018 after back-to-back relegations saw the club plummet from the Premier League down to the third-tier. It was later revealed that Donald leveraged the club’s Premier League parachute payments to complete the purchase.
Short wrote off the Black Cats’ debt before Donald’s arrival but hopes of an ascent back up the leagues have floundered. The club suffered a 2-1 defeat to Charlton in last season’s League One play-off final and are currently ninth in the table this campaign, winning only nine of their 23 games.
Donald met with supporters in December, promising improved performances and significant investment in the January transfer window, only for the subsequent fan backlash to change his stance and put Sunderland on the market.
“We would like to place on record our thanks for the wonderful support we have received from SAFC’s phenomenal supporters,” said Donald. “We would also like to reassure those loyal fans that we are placing sufficient funds in the club to support the manager as he seeks to improve the first team in the next few weeks. Finally, I just ask that fans now unite to support the players and the coaching staff.”
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