Academy investment, feeder clubs and big playing budgets: The Sunderland AFC takeover vision Juan Sartori could implement

Sunderland are a club in need of a real vision – and a change in majority ownership could well provide that.

When fans called for Stewart Donald to sell-up late last year, one of the main points of contention was the lack of a long-term vision or ambition for the club.

So could a change in ownership, which would see Juan Sartori and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus become majority shareholders, bring a much-needed plan for the future?

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We take a look at the vision for Sunderland that Sartori could implement, given some of his previous comments:

Juan Sartori

THE TAKEOVER ALREADY MOUNTED

It’s easy to forget that this isn’t the first time that Sartori has tried to purchase an English club.

Back in 2017 he was close to purchasing Oxford United, having been brought to the table by Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven.

Sartori completed significant due diligence on the U’s before chairman Darryl Eales decided against selling.

And while that deal didn’t come to fruition, subsequent comments made by the Uruguayan could hint at what he has planned for the Black Cats.

Speaking to the Oxford Mail after negotiations with Eales came to a halt, Sartori spoke of wanting to develop the club’s academy, stadium and climb the leagues.

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“I am sad about it, but what can you do?” he said at the time.

“We worked a lot over the last three months and did due diligence, but it was Darryl’s decision to carry on at the club. We put forward a very strong project, a very credible project.

“It was a very ambitious project but we needed to buy the club to put it into action.

“It involved real estate and the stadium.

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"We had a project on the football side that involved strengthening the academy and having a higher playing budget.

“Then we would see a value on the brand that could be developed commercially.

“It would have involved the whole football club.

“We wanted to go as high as possible – the Championship and Premier League.

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“Could we have made it? Of course. I have no doubt about it.”

Sartori’s ambition is unlikely to have been tempered, and his plans for Oxford will translate over to his bid for Sunderland.

But if we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that plans and reality can differ greatly.

The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding.

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SOUTH AMERICAN LINKS

For as long as there has been Sartori, there has been talk of forging links with South America.

Shortly after the Uruguayan was unveiled as a minority shareholder at the Stadium of Light, Donald spoke of how the Black Cats would be looking to exploit a ‘gap in the market’ in bringing South American players into the club.

It was something Sartori himself discussed during a subsequent interview with A Love Supreme.

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"We could send people to the academy, use the Uruguayan talent that we have, get them a proper transition, get some new talent available to the club thanks to what we have in Uruguay,” he said.

"We have contacts with a lot of clubs in Argentina, Brazil, so that this source of young talent that maybe isn’t getting the opportunity here can join with the local talent at Sunderland.

"It’s very important we continue to develop local talent, and from the rest of the UK and Europe. Why not now South America?”

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Multi-club ownership is becoming commonplace in football after the success of the City Football Group - indeed, one of Mark Campbell’s plans had he taken control of Sunderland in 2019 was to establish a similar structure including a network of clubs.

And Sartori may now make that vision a reality.

He's spoken before about wanting to formalise a link between Sunderland and a South American side, with reports in L’Equipe suggesting that Club Atletico River Plate in Uruguay’s top flight could become a partner club.

Speaking earlier this year, Sartori said: “I would love for Sunderland to have an affiliated club in Uruguay.

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“I studied a number of Uruguayan clubs to be able to do it, but due to lack of time I could not complete that project.

“I will surely end up doing it.”

If Sartori and Louis-Dreyfus’ takeover bid is successful, then it would be little surprise if we see a stronger bond formed between Sunderland and South America.

PASSION = POUNDS

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Sartori is someone who clearly enjoys being a football club owner.

When he first arrived on Wearside, he enjoyed soaking up the atmosphere and showing the Stadium of Light to his friends and family via FaceTime.

And where passion comes, pounds tend to follow.

Indeed, in previous interviews, Sartori has has made no secret of the fact that he will pump money into a sporting project should it be the ‘right opportunity’.

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“I would think it very likely at some point I find a club to buy that I like,” he said in 2017.

“This is because I am passionate about football and I like the thought of building a successful club.

“Whether that it is in England or a different country, with Oxford United or a different club I do not know – but I will spend money on the right opportunity.

“I think you can certainly say it probably won’t be the last time I try to do something in football.”

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Sunderland now looks to be that opportunity.

While Sartori hasn’t been seen on Wearside in over a year, those close to him suggest his passion for the Black Cats and desire to improve the club has not disappeared.

So if his consortium are given the green light, significant investment may well follow.

A message from the Football Clubs Editor:

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