Prayers for Sunderland: Priest says ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ after SAFC takeover

Sunderland supporter Father Marc Lyden Smith.
Sunderland supporter Father Marc Lyden Smith.

A Sunderland-supporting priest says he and fellow Black Cats fans have “light at the end of the tunnel” now that the club is to be sold.

At the weekend, American billionaire Ellis Short agreed to sell SAFC to a consortium led by Eastleigh FC owner Stewart Donald, subject to Football League approval.

Sunderland supporter Father Marc Lyden Smith.

Sunderland supporter Father Marc Lyden Smith.

Short has also agreed to wipe all debt off from the club, which it’s believed stood at more than £100million.

Manager Chris Coleman was released from his contract just minutes before news of the takeover deal was announced.

SAFC fan and club chaplain Marc Lyden-Smith, of St Mary’s Church, in Bridge Street, Sunderland city centre, told the Echo today that he has a renewed optimism about the future of the club following a terrible past two years.

“I’m really excited about the future,” said Fr Marc.

Stewart Donald. Pic by Peter Norton/Getty Images.

Stewart Donald. Pic by Peter Norton/Getty Images.

“I think we’re all eager to look at the fine print of whoever exactly these investors are, but it’s a great opportunity for a fresh start especially at the end of such an awful season.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel as far as I’m concerned.

“Hopefully now we can look forward to next season.”

The last two seasons have seen Sunderland finish rock bottom of the Premier League and then the Championship, with attendances at the Stadium of Light dwindling along the way.

The Stadium of Light.

The Stadium of Light.

Fr Marc added that he hopes to see crowds increase with former owner Short now gone and the chance for fans to get behind new players.

“There’s been a real sadness around because people will have expected us to be winning more games,” he said.

“But then everyone realise that once again we were going to be in a dogfight.

“For a club with such a history and with such passionate fans it’s been terrible to see.

“After what has happened though, I’m starting to feel excited again.

“We’ve got great fans and a lot of good young players coming through.

“Hopefully these investors want to connect with the fans and the city, because that will be important.

“The first thing to do is for the team to start playing with confidence again next season, and then the stadium will be more full.

“Once the team has confidence and improves, we will get back to where we belong.”