'Can't justify that': Sunderland owner Stewart Donald urged to lower £37.6m price tag

A prominent football finance expert has urged Stewart Donald to lower his £37.6million asking price for Sunderland AFC – saying there is ‘no logic’ in the figure.

During an interview with BBC Radio Newcastle, Donald – who is still actively looking to sell the Black Cats – confirmed that his asking price currently stands £37.6million after a ‘readjustment’ from the initial figure of £40million.

Donald insists he is ‘not interested in profit and this asking price, he says, represents the same figure that he paid for the club in 2018.

But Kieran Maguire of the University of Liverpool believes that the price is unrealistic in the current market - with football shrouded in uncertainty ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has been urged to rethink his asking price

“I think it’s difficult to justify that price,” he said, speaking to the Echo

“When Stewart Donald acquired the club it was still due to receive two years’ worth of parachute payments. That’s now disappeared. I think there was a genuine prospect of Sunderland returning to the Championship, and that’s not manifested under Stewart Donald’s leadership - despite the fact that Sunderland had ten times the income of any club in League One last season.

“I can’t justify it using any of the models that I look at.

“If you’re acquiring a club with a clean slate then it does have value and it does have potential, but we’ve got no guarantee as to when matches will be returning in front of a paying audience.

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“If you’re looking at it from a business point of view, you’ll be wondering how you’re going to generate revenues.

“The TV deals will be hit until we have some form of normality, and as far as sponsors are concerned everyone is looking at budgets and ways to cut budgets. If it’s a case of keeping staff or keeping up a deal at a football club, then I’d imagine most companies are going to take the former route.

“If you put that into the equation, then the price of a football club has fallen.

“I’m not sure how Stewart Donald can ignore the fact that we’re looking at the worst potential recession for a century, and we’re in the middle of a global health crisis. He seems to be living in a bit of a bubble by expecting the sale price will be the same as the purchase price.”

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“He needs to focus in terms of what he’s looking for,” he continued.

“I would really advise him to have a rethink and to make a realistic assessment of how you come up with a price. Just saying ‘I bought it for £37million, that’s the lowest I’m prepared to go’ has no logic.”

Explaining his asking price on BBC Newcastle, Donald said: “The asking price is what I paid for it.

"It was originally £40m but there was a readjustment for Alvarez, so it's now £37.6million.”