The key claims from Stewart Donald as he outlines stance on Sunderland sale and asking price
Stewart Donald has insisted that he is ‘desperately’ trying to sell Sunderland AFC.
The Sunderland chairman met fan groups at the Stadium of Light on Thursday amid concerns regarding the lack of progress regarding the sale and the wider picture at the club.
Donald, who orginally said in January that it would take ‘a month or two’, said that there was no one who had at this stage shown either proof of funds or an intent to meet his asking price.
He confirmed that no one was ‘in the data room’, indicating that a sale was some way off.
Madrox, the holding company through which Donald owns the club, have twice previously almost sold the club, only for deals to collapse at a late stage.
The FPP group ultimately opted to put a loan into the club.
“I know they want me out and I’m desperately trying to get out,” Donald said.
"I’ve read the papers the same as everybody else advising that I’m being awkward in a sale.
"To recap where we are, I was asked to sell and I put the club straight on the market. Pre-Covid we were relatively close to a deal, but unfortunately the two or three serious parties we had at that time understandably said ‘well you don’t even know what your revenues are or when your game are starting again, so we’ll have to wait and come back to you in due course’.
"At this current time, there is no-one who has shown proof of funds or shown an intent on closing off a deal….
"Selling the club is simple,” he added.
"It’s a very straightforward sale and I think even [chief executive] Jim Rodwell who brought someone to me months ago, as has Tom Sloanes [non-executive director] who brought someone in, how straightforward we are to deal with.
"The enquiries they brought in were dealt with straight away, but they didn’t proceed. I’ve seen the fan groups today to try and allay their fears that I’m being awkward or trying to block the sale.
"I’m absolutely not. Everything is escalating and I’ve communicated the issues that has given to me and my family to the fan groups.
"Off the backdrop of that, I think anybody would want to sell the club and I told them I would sell the club and the price, as other bidders have been told, is what I paid for it.”
Donald also claimed that his sale price was fair as he believes the club to be in a better position now than when he purchased it in 2018.
He has insisted that he will repay the parachute payments used to pay for the club in full.
As part of a range of questions put to Madrox in the aftermath of the revelations surrounding the writing off of the parachute payment, the club’s ownership said the balance had been paid down to around £11.5 million at that stage.
The Echo was shown internal documents to reflect the money being repaid, some of which came into the club after the deal struck with the FPP group last year.
The Echo has not see the club’s final accounts for the 2018/19 period, which are due to be released at the end of this month.
“I have always said that those monies would be repaid and there's a bit more to go back in, but by the time a sale progresses - because we are a little way off - I'll make sure all those are back in because it's something I promised to do,” Donald said.
"It’s something that has been verified as being done by the local paper and something I’ve confirmed to the fans. I’ve asked Angela today, who’s our financial director, to make sure when the end of year figures are due on 31st July that obviously they are put out in the public domain as quickly as possible so people can see with the whites of their own eyes that this is the case.
"I’m being accused of lots of things and whilst you can argue that the football hasn’t gone as well as possible, I did my best to get the best managers - Jack Ross was wanted in the Championship at the time and I matched those fees - I gave us the biggest budgets, there’s a lot of talk of Will Grigg and I went on that.
"I always feel that I’ve invested in the football club and I’ve promised to replace those funds, but I don’t want to lose money on the deal. I feel the football club is in a much better position than when I bought it.
"I’ll take the same money, I’ve offered it to the fans groups, because I know that RAWA [Red & White Army] have made an indication that they may wish to move to a trust.
"It’s a big club and if Portsmouth can do it then Sunderland can do it.
"I’ll be more than flexible on the payment terms as Ellis was with me. It’s out there in the open and it’s there for anyone - and I can assure anyone that if they get hold of me we’ll have a very straightforward conversation.”
Donald also said that he would not look to stay at the club in any capacity as part of the sale process.