Stewart Donald on Josh Maja talks and how it will change Sunderland's approach to future contract renewals

Stewart Donald says that Josh Maja has been given time to think and talk through his options with his family.

Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 9:08 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 12:51 pm
Stewart Donald says Josh Maja still wants to extend his Sunderland career beyond the summer
Stewart Donald says Josh Maja still wants to extend his Sunderland career beyond the summer

The Sunderland chairman, in a typically candid interview with Roker Report, opened up on his frustrations with the negotiation process.

He said Maja's agent had turned up late for one meeting with Richard Hill and not turned up at all for one meeting with Donald himself.

Stewart Donald says Josh Maja still wants to extend his Sunderland career beyond the summer

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The situation came to a head last week when a deadline for Maja to commit passed without resolution.

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Donald remains hopeful that Maja will stay and revealed that he met with the 20-year-old on Monday, who again reiterated his desire to stay at the club.

While unhappy with how much of the talks had played out, Donald admitted that was 'scenery' and said the most important thing is getting a resolution both for the player and the club.

He told Roker Report: "Josh is one player and we don’t want that derailing us at the most important time of the season, so we need a resolution.

"So I said I would come and see him today, he’s a lovely lad, very easy to talk to, he wants to sign for Sunderland but he also values the advice of his agent.

"So he wants to talk it through with his agent.

"What matters is, not ruining out team spirit, not ruining what we’re trying to build, creating a culture whereby everybody wants to be here for all the right reasons," Donald added.

"We treat people with the right level of respect and Josh Maja has done that as well.

"The ball is in his court, he has said he wants to sign, he wants to talk to his family and he’s going to tell us once he talks to his family what he wants to do.

"We’ve given him a couple of days grace on that."

Crucially, Donald said that the talks will force a change in the club's approach to dealing with contract renewals.

He was critical of the deals he inherited and said that he would ensure the Black Cats are never left in this position again.

"The contracts that we inherited are ridiculous from the football club's perspective," he said.

"Think about it logically, these lads sign two or three-year deals in our academy.

"Common sense tells you in the first two years he'll be learning his way, and then in the last year he's got a chance of breaking through.

"Surely, we should protect ourselves with extensions by saying, if Josh Maja or Lynden Gooch make five or ten first team appearances, we get an extra year with a higher wage.

"At the moment, a player gets in the first team and then there's a value to them, and we've got no protection.

"It will not happen in the future. I'm not doing this every six or 12 months.

"What we should do is say to a Josh Maja, if you play five games we get an extra year and you get double your wage, or if you play 20 it doubles again and we get another year, etc.

"Then we're protected.

"I'll give a commitment to Sunderland fans now. We may lose one or two but we won't have this in future.

"We'll be fair to the player but we'll be fair to ourselves.

"It is basic common sense."