Petition calling for Sunderland owner Ellis Short to sell the club hits 10,000 signatures
A petition calling for Sunderland owner Ellis Short to sell the club has been signed by more than 10,000 supporters.
Sunderland supporters group Red and White Army launched the petition last month as well as writing an open letter to Short, urging the football club's owner to sell up.Sunderland - relegated from the Premier League last season - are in real danger of successive relegations with the club bottom of the Championship, four points from safety with only 11 games remaining.
Short is looking to sell the club, having seen a takeover involving a German consortium collapse last summer.
The billionaire had already slashed his asking price from £80million to £50million with fresh reports Short is prepared to give Sunderland away for 'free' - provided a new owner is willing to take on the club's huge debts.
The last set of accounts, up to July 2016, showed the gross debt was £137million.
Around half the debt, £69million, is to Short himself and the balance of £68million is owed to Security Bank Corporation. There are significant annual interest payments per year too.
In mid-February, disillusioned fans came together to call for Short to 'treat the club with respect' and find a buyer as quickly as possible.
At the time of writing 10,040 fans have now signed the petition.
* Chris Coleman reveals he has NEVER spoken to Sunderland owner Ellis ShortWith attendances dwindling at the Stadium of Light and the club still struggling with large debts, independent supporters organisation Red and White Army launched the petition.
The open letter says: "Do us a favour Mr Short — sell. Make it your number one priority to source a reputable buyer and go.
"The match day experience is unrecognisable. Thousands of supporters have understandably given up and no longer bother.
"It feels like Sunderland AFC has lost its soul, and with it we'll lose a generation of supporters.
"There may have been a period in which Ellis Short was enamoured of SAFC, but that time has long passed.
"By contrast our infatuation lives on, almost 140 years strong, a never-ending blessing and curse. Owners come and owners go. We’re Sunderland ‘til we die.
"We are a club steeped in tradition with its fair share of glory and pain, but through thick and thin this club has had a heartbeat, a lifeblood that is as passionate as they come.
"We are not the tatty, discarded plaything of a frustrated and disillusioned billionaire, who no longer finds novelty in owning a football club."
Short is now based in the US, with chief executive Martin Bain in day-to-day control.