Sunderland director Juan Sartori reveals why he joined club - and what his plans are
Executive director Juan Sartori has opened up about his decision to join Sunderland and the '˜aggressive' business strategy he plans to implement at the club.
The Uruguayan investor bought a 20 per cent stake in the club last month and has quickly became a popular figure with the Black Cats fans, after joining supporters in the South Stand during Sunderland’s victory over Scunthorpe last month.
And Sartori, a passionate football fan himself, has revealed why the role on Wearside appealed to him.
“My heart in football is with Uruguay, that’s where I live in the World Cup,” Sartori told cnbc.com.
“It’s a passion I wanted to combine with what I do which is investments and growing companies, so buying a football team and trying to develop a project has been an idea of mine for some time.
“I tried to acquire Oxford, it didn’t work out but as usual at times in life a much more exciting opportunity came with the Sunderland opportunity.”
When pushed further on what attracted him to Sunderland specifically, Sartori added:” Sunderland is a huge club, the seventh largest in England, a club with a lot of history and a big following, and that’s what made it attractive.
“I think 17 months ago it was a club in the Premier League, now it’s starting the League One season so definitely something went wrong there, something went very, very wrong.
“The biggest job we have to do now is to identify what are the problems and then a very strong turnaround to take the club back to where we believe it deserves to be, and most of the fans, which is back in the Premier League.
“We have a plan which is a two to three year plan which is very aggressive and is actually working pretty well. From a business point of view it’s turning and showing the results of the job we are doing.”
Sunderland have slashed their wage bill since the arrival of their new owners but are still paying Â£11million in wages according to chairman Stewart Donald.
And Sartori realises it will not be easy to reverse the club’s recent slide.
"Easy one? Not at all, I think the task is big, to reverse that momentum that has been going on for the last two or three years was not easy,” said Sartori, when asked if it would be easy to implement his plans.
“We have a concept that involves everybody, the fans the community, everybody is involved, in the city it’s important for most of the people.
“The first thing we did is communicate very openly about what we wanted to do, what needed to be done and the help we needed from supporters.
“I think that combination is working pretty well with a complete new team on the pitch, a lot of young players, academy players that we’re giving an opportunity to, a completely new corporate team with the board, with Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and myself.
“On the playing side it’s never easy to win even if you have the biggest badges and the best organisation."