Splash the cash! Sunderland fan message as takeover nears
Supporters have praised the job done by Stewart Donald but hope to see the new Mark Campbell-led consortium splash the cash at Sunderland.
Today we can reveal the first batch of results from our big end of season Sunderland survey, with fans having their say on the big talking points.
Sunderland are facing up to a second season in the third tier following the League One play-off final defeat to Charlton Athletic.
While the squad rest and recovers ahead of another gruelling campaign next year, Sunderland fan are keenly waiting for confirmation of the Campbell-led takeover getting the green light.
As revealed by the Echo, the businessman’s plans to become majority shareholder are on course with the deal expected to go through by the end of next week.
The Englishman has business interests in the UK and New York and his background is in real estate.
We asked supporters to rate Donald’s tenure in charge having taken over as Sunderland owner from Ellis Short last summer in a takeover worth up to £40million.
And while he will retain a stake in Sunderland, a place on the board and play a significant role next season, there is fresh investment on the way in the shape of the Campbell consortium.
A total of 56 per cent of fans said they ‘couldn’t ask for more’ from Donald’s first year at the helm with a further quarter satisfied with the progress the club has made.
We asked fans what should the priority be for Campbell & Co when they arrive later this month; invest in the team, or the academy, or cut the wage bill further or invest in facilities at the club.
And a whopping 89 per cent of fans urged the new investors to invest in the Sunderland squad ahead of an assault on League One next season.
Work on transfers is ongoing but there is unlikely to be any new arrivals until the ownership structure at the club is clear, that is set to be towards the end of next week.
As part of our survey, we also asked supporters how much the Black Cats should be looking to spend on new signings, from nothing, right the way up to £5million plus on new signings?
And supporters were clear they want to see money spent on the squad, with 44 per cent calling for between £2m and £5m to be spent and a further 32 per cent calling for £5million plus to be splashed.
Supporters don’t feel there needs to be a huge overhaul of the squad, though, with 70 per cent of fans calling for up to five new quality signings, with 29 per cent wanting to see six to 10 new faces arrive at the Stadium of Light.
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Sunderland will be aiming to bounce back strongly next season after their promotion hopes went up in smoke in the last minute against Charlton at Wembley.
We asked supporters what the single biggest issue behind the failure to win promotion was and and fans were split with 32 per cent blaming goalscoring issues after Josh Maja’s departure and a similar number blaming defensive issues.
Ross will remain as Sunderland boss, even when the Campbell-led consortium comes on board.
That has already been confirmed and he is busy working on transfer business ahead of next season.
A total of 45 per cent of fans said they were content with Ross’ performance but said promotion was a MUST next year.
Around a third of fans said they were unhappy though with his performance as promotion was the aim and the club fell short.
Fans felt the Scot’s best quality was his character and demeanour with supporters also praising his man management skills and his reputation for giving younger players a chance.
A third of fans felt his worst quality was his tactics, with style of football and not having a settled side also coming in for criticism.
The Campbell-led group has completed due diligence with any change in the majority shareholder status subject to the EFL approval process, though there is confidence a deal will be completed by next week.
Provided the new consortium gains control as planned then ex-Celtic scout John Park is set to arrive as director of football.
And it is probably no surprise to see fans calling for the club to prioritise centre backs this summer after the struggles of Jack Baldwin, Glenn Loovens, Jimmy Dunne this campaign, with Alim Ozturk and Tom Flanagan also coming under criticism at times.
A fifth of supporters also called for Sunderland to target at least one new striker this summer following the struggles of Charlie Wyke and Will Grigg in front of goal.
Sunderland spent £3million on former Wigan Athletic Grigg in January but he only managed to score five goals, with the Black Cats finishing fifth in League One.
Wyke had injury problems but ended the season strongly and Ross will be looking to get more out of the pair next season, while bolstering his forward options.
We’ll be carrying the rest of the results from our big Sunderland AFC survey online and in print tomorrow.