What we know so far as FPP Sunderland complete 'substantial' investment deal
FPP Sunderland have completed a deal to invest a ‘substantial’ sum into Sunderland AFC.
So, at this stage, what do we know and what do we not?
We take a closer look…..
What’s the investment and what will the money be spent on?
The investment is believed to be around the eight-figure mark.
It’s primarily going to be used to rebuild some of the structures that have been badly affected by consecutive relegations.
Central to this will be the club’s recruitment structures.
Most of this was stripped back by the new owners last summer, who felt that the department had been a failing one over a number of years.
As such, Jack Ross and Head of Recruitment Tony Coton were heavily reliant on their own contacts in identifying targets and bringing players to the club.
This is clearly not sustainable in the long-term and something the hierarchy have identified as an area where clear and effective structures are required if Sunderland are going to be both sustainable and successful if and when they return to the Championship.
A number of appointments to this department are expected in the not too distant future.
The academy is another key area for investment.
The club has retained its category one status but has lost some key players to top Premier League rivals, and results this season have been poor in the U18 and U23 age ranges.
The plan is for further investment to aid recruitment at that those levels and offer an incentive to the best talents in the younger ages that they can have a successful future at the club.
Methven has also promised investment into the matchday experience at the Stadium of Light, as well as the ‘surrounding infrastructure’.
How does this affect the day-to-day structure of the club?
In short, it doesn’t.
The shareholders remain unaffected and there have not yet been any changes at boardroom level.
As mentioned, the deal will likely see further appointments made in the footballing department but the day-to-day running fo the club remains very much in the charge of Donald and Methven.
What’s in it for the FPP group and what are their long term plans?
This is the key question where fans will have questions.
With FPP not taking a shareholding in the club at his stage, the investment is into the club’s holding company, Madrox Partners.
This means that the club itself will not be placed into debt as a result of the deal.
Past that, however, the terms of the deal are confidential. The return for FPP, is therefore unknown.
Their long-term plans are unclear at this stage, with this merely an initial investment.
The group have been eyeing an investment in European football for some time, however, and so it is fair to deduce that there is room for the partnership to grow further if successful.
At this stage, they have opted against taking full control of Sunderland or any other club. Whether that changes in future remains to be seen.
What’s happening with Juan Sartori?
Sartori purchased a 20% stake in the club in the months following Stewart Donald’s initial takeover of the club.
He was said to bring significant connections and expertise in the game, with his father-in-law, Dmitry Rybolovlev, owner of AS Monaco.
He was a visible presence in the early stages of the season, but has visits have been far less frequent in 2019 as his political career in Uruguay began.
He was unsuccessful in a bid to win his party’s nomination for the presidential race, but was earlier this week elected as the country’s youngest ever senator.
Methven has nevertheless said that fans can expect to see a lot more of him going forward.
How he splits his time between these two commitments remains to be seen.
Methven said: “He, Stewart and I put a substantial extra chunk of money into the club before this investment a few weeks ago, he is very engaged in the future direction of the club.
“He’s speaking to us two to three times a week at the moment and I think people can expect to see him an awful lot more going forward.”
Does this mean there is money to spend in January?
Charlie Methven has said that this injection of funds from the FPP group would be about ‘medium to long term projects’.
Primarily, they are recruitment structures, the academy, matchday experience for supporters and other infrastructure.
So boosting the club’s playing budget for this season is not the reason why investment was being sought and secured.
However, in his opening press conference as the new manager, Phil Parkinson said he had been given assurances that there would be support to restructure the squad as he sees fit in January.
“It was discussed,” he said.
“But in terms of going forward it’s a case of getting to January and see when you’re in the building what you feel about the squad.
“There is a real desire to be successful. These months are about assessing the squad and if we need reinforcements in January, I’m sure we’ll be backed.”
In an interview with the club days later, taking questions directly from fans, that there had even been discussions regarding potential targets as part of the recruitment process.
*Methven discusses the deal, how the money will be invested and recent changes at Sunderland AFC in more detail in tomorrow’s Echo