Stewart Donald on his Sunderland 'journey' and why he's turned down offers to invest in or sell the club

Stewart Donald has only owned Sunderland for six months but he's already had offers of investment and even to buy the club from him.

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 10:47 am
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 10:53 am
Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald.
Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald.

Donald has turned down those offers because it wasn't in the best interests of the club.

But the fact there has already such interest is testament to the impressive work that Donald and his fellow directors have overseen in turning around the fortunes of Sunderland AFC since buying the club for £40million from Ellis Short this summer.

Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald.

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Back-to-back relegations saw Sunderland playing third tier football for only the second time in the club's history yet Donald & Co have overseen a major overhaul of the playing squad, appointed Jack Ross who continues to impress, cut the losses at the club and helped reconnect with the fanbase.

The huge debt was cleared by Short as part of the sale and the club is now on a sound financial footing thanks to the ongoing work to cut losses as Sunderland cuts its cloth in the third tier.

Donald is the majority shareholder, with director Juan Sartori owning 20-per-cent of the club.

Speaking on the Roker Rapport podcast earlier this week, Donald revealed he'd had an inquiry as recently as last week from a party wanting to buy the club, an offer that would have made Donald a sizeable profit.

The offer was quickly declined but the potential of Sunderland AFC is clear to see.

Donald said: "Sunderland is winning games, and I think people know that, financially, the word has got out there that its outgoings and its incomings is not only sort of like back where it should be, but probably pretty good in comparison [to a lot of other clubs]. It’s a Premier League club in the making, isn’t it?"

Donald made a guest appearance on BBC Radio Newcastle on Wednesday evening and revealed further details of the interest in Sunderland.

When asked if he could provide any further details of the recent rejected bid, Donald said: "We get approaches quite regularly with regards to people either trying to buy a part of the club or take control of it.

"These people wanted to acquire 60 per cent of the football club, I can tell you that.

"It was a decent financial offer from people that were funded well enough but not, I think, a better option at this stage than Juan [Sartori] and I.

"At this stage it wasn't in Sunderland's best interests to entertain even trying to progress that.

"We said to the people involved 'not at the moment, thank you'."

For Donald, he sees reviving Sunderland's fortunes as a journey though he admits he will have to be adaptable and flexible the higher up the league pyramid the club hopefully climbs, though he admits it would be difficult to let go.

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Donald added: "Yes, I would like to see it through.

"I have talked about my plans for Sunderland at the various stages; the first one that we've done is to get the club financially stable and that is no mean achievement to be fair.

"We have done that and that it is great news for the club, we don't have to worry about the future of the club.

"I'm not saying it was ever going to go into administration but it wasn't healthy, that is for sure.

"The next job, which it looks like we've done, is to get a team that can compete and get us out of League One, then the same for the next stage in the Championship and then we have to get a model where we can compete in the Premier League and not just be 17th.

"Through that journey I hope to stay involved in the football club and fulfil all those challenges that I have set and keep the structure right but I am not silly enough to think that potentially though that journey we might have challenges and we need to be adaptable and I need to be flexible.

"It would be difficult for me to let the club go but if I felt it was the right thing to do on that journey, then that is what I'd have to do."