Sunderland takeover edges closer as Eastleigh confirm Stewart Donald has sold club

Stewart Donald has agreed a deal to sell Eastleigh FC, the club have confirmed.

Monday, 14th May 2018, 3:10 pm
Updated Monday, 14th May 2018, 3:16 pm

The Oxfordshire-born businessman is hoping to buy Sunderland AFC as the head of an international consortium, but league rules stipulate that any one person can not have a controlling interest in two clubs.

Donald is currently going through the EFL Owners' and Directors' Test.

Stewart Donald at the Stadium of Light. Picture: PA.

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Having also been an influential figure at Oxford United, Donald intends to become the majority shareholder at the Stadium of Light.

A club statement from Eastleigh FC reads: "Eastleigh Football Club can confirm that owner and majority shareholder Stewart Donald has agreed to sell the club to the existing board members, along with a number of senior management staff currently working for the club.

"The club has been in discussion with the National League regarding the change of ownership, and we are now awaiting confirmation of their approval before matters can be concluded."

Donald took over at Eastleigh in 2012 and stated his ambition to take them into the football league.

That did not happen but he has overseen a significant growth at the club, particularly in terms of the club's stadium and fanbase.

Sunderland now offer him the opportunity to fulfill his footballing ambitions, pending EFL approval of the deal.

On Sunday he took to Twitter to tell Black Cats supporters that he was confident that would soon happen.

He wrote: "It’s moving on. Lots to do but getting there now!

“I don’t know (when it will be ratified) but the EFL are responding quickly all the time and it seems to be moving on well. They are on it. Will have to see - fingers crossed won’t be too long before we all know.

“Things are moving on at pace behind the scenes. EFL are responding quickly so good on them. Hopefully be some news soon. Fingers crossed for a quick conclusion from here.”

Shortly after completing the deal to buy Sunderland, Donald told BBC Solent that he would leave Eastleigh in a positive place, and that he was 'unbelievably excited' by the potential on Wearside.

He said: "Who wouldn’t be excited about Sunderland? It’s a challenge, I can’t say anything about it other than to say that it is a big job.

“You’ve just got to live it and breathe it, and I am unbelievably excited about it. I’m more than a makeweight now as I’ve already said, which has cost me a little bit more than I expected but once you get into it you just think, ‘I’ve got to be part of this.’

“It is an unbelievable place for football. I hope it goes through because I just can’t wait.”