Fed-up and angry Sunderland fans deliver damning verdict on Stewart Donald's reign in our big survey as 91% urge him to sell club
Sunderland fans have delivered a damning verdict on Stewart Donald’s reign with nine out of 10 either unhappy or deeply unhappy with the owners and 91% urging him to sell.
Today we can reveal the results of our Big Sunderland Survey which gave fans the chance to have their say on a host of big issues at the Stadium of Light.
Concerns over finances, the future direction of the club, the sale of young talent from the academy plus the failure on the pitch - with Sunderland braced for a third year in League One - has all led to widespread criticism and increasing fan anger this summer.
And the strong feelings on Wearside are reflected in the results of our survey.
Donald held a heated meeting with representatives of fan groups last week and confirmed his commitment to sell the club but then slapped an eye-watering £37.6million price tag on it.
That figure has been widely criticised with fans, former players and financial experts alike urging the Sunderland owner to lower the price and ensure the club is sold to a reputable buyer.
These are some of the key results from our survey, which saw 2,200 fans respond over the past week:
- 90.2% either unhappy/deeply unhappy with Donald and the club's owners.
- 91.8% want Donald to sell the club
- 92.6% don't think the club will be sold this summer
- 85.8% say Donald should lower asking price
- 95.6% don't believe Juan Sartori will increase his role/presence
-90.2% not confident owners are fully committed to the academy
How would you describe your feelings about the job being done by Stewart Donald and the club’s owners?
A majority of fans - 58.7% - said they were deeply unhappy, with a further 31.5% stating they were unhappy with the job done by Donald & Co since they took charge in the summer of 2018.
Sunderland have twice failed to win promotion and are now facing a third season in the third tier, without any further parachute payments to help support the club.
Just 2.6% of fans that responded to our poll described themselves as ‘happy’ with the owners.
We also asked fans what their biggest concern was, the results were mixed with 32.8% concerned about finances and whether Madrox had the funds to progress the club.
Meanwhile, 23% expressed concern over how the club was bought, in large part with the use of parachute payments and the ‘writing off’ of the £20.5m figure, though the club’s owners stress that money will be paid back by the time the club is sold.
We also asked fans whether they believed Juan Sartori would ever increase his role and influence on Wearside, something the Echo has moved to grill him about with a series of questions.
Our survey revealed 95.6% of fans that took part did not believe he would get more involved despite regular pledges he would.
Do you want Stewart Donald & Co to sell Sunderland? And should Donald lower his asking price?
The results were overwhelming with 91.8% of fans calling on Donald to sell, however a similar number, 92.6% didn’t believe SAFC would change hands this summer.
Donald, for his part, insists he is doing all he can to sell the club. However, Donald, who originally said in January that it would take ‘a month or two’, said last week that there was no one who had at this stage shown either proof of funds or an intent to meet his asking price.
Our survey was launched prior to Donald confirming he wanted £37.6m for the club but even with the previously reported figure of £35m, fans still wanted to see him lower the price - 85.8% of fans calling for the price to be slashed.
Madrox had previously stated the price tag was private but flexible within reason, however Donald went public with his demands last week.
What should be Stewart Donald’s biggest priority? If the club is sold, what should the new owner’s biggest priority be?
‘Sell Sunderland AFC at a fair price to a reputable new owner’ was the message loud and clear from supporters - with 75% stating that should be Donald’s main priority.
Other fans wanted to see the first team (10.5%) improved or the football structure (5.2%) or improve the club’s recruitment strategy (4%).
A number of individuals and parties remain interested in a takeover of Sunderland including Sammy Yu, Mark Campbell and the consortium that former defender Micky Gray is hoping to broker a deal for.
If the club were to be sold, then 60.8% of fans said investment in the squad had to be the main priority.
Meanwhile, investment in the scouting and recruitment departments polled almost 25% of votes.
When it came to the key criteria for any new owner, fans were clear on that too.
In total 83% wanted to see evidence of a long-term plan to develop the club, something supporters feel has been badly lacking under Donald & Co.
We asked season ticket holders, did they cancel or renew? If they cancelled, why?
One of the many sagas this summer that has angered the fanbase is the issue of season tickets and plans for next season, with games set to be played behind-closed-doors initially, though there are hopes some fans may be allowed inside stadiums from October.
The club has sold around 10,000 season cards to date, well down on previous seasons which are comfortably 20,000 plus usually but perhaps not surprising given there is no clear date yet for when fans will be allowed back in.
We asked fans whether they cancelled or renewed? Of those that responded, 67.7% cancelled with 43.3% saying they did so because they were unhappy with the owners.
The way the renewal process was handled and the communication around it accounted for 19% of the fans that cancelled.
We also asked if you did cancel, would you renew when fans are allowed back in? And 62% said they would not be, that will be a major concern for the Sunderland hierarchy.