Tony Gillan: Why it's hard to believe Stewart Donald is selling Sunderland because of fan protests

I’m afraid I always bristle when politicians refer to “the people.”

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 4:45 pm

The phrase implies that everyone in this great country is as one on whichever subject is in hand; as though no two people are at any sort of variance on the issue.

So it is with “the fans”.

I don’t know of any two Sunderland fans in complete agreement on every matter concerning their club. So the thought of any group representing all is a nice thought, it just isn’t really feasible.

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Sunderland owner Stewart Donald
Sunderland owner Stewart Donald

A collective of supporters was cobbled together with the express intention of getting Stewart Donald to sell Sunderland AFC and, would you credit it, he’s only gone and done it; or at least it seems he’s about to.

Donald is to flog the club “with a heavy heart”: the same description he used when sacking Jack Ross. His heart presumably hasn’t felt light for some months now. There’s a lot of it about.

So hurrah for fan power. Or is it?

Aside of the fact that no one has the faintest idea what the next owners have in mind, it is difficult to believe that Mr Donald’s departure had anything to do with fan pressure.

If he thought he would land a better offer by waiting for as long as necessary, he wouldn’t be going anywhere.

Owners never sell unless they see it as the most propitious option for themselves. That and death are the only reasons for them ever leaving a football club. Not protests.

Similarly, it is very rare that a manager is ever sacked for anything other than bad results. Any Sunderland manager who was ever shown the door met their fate because the team was losing – not because of campaigning supporters.

Be glad the Donald situation is being nipped in the bud. It spares us some unwanted noise.

Protesting fans, at any club, are only ever a symptom and never a cause. A well intentioned group has let off some steam and made their opinions clear. Fine.

But really, all supporters can really do is support – and Sunderland fans already do that spectacularly well.