Stewart Donald addresses scathing online criticism ahead of Sunderland takeover

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Potential new Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has fronted up to some scathing online criticism by former player Lee Howey.

Howey has taken to Twitter this week to openly doubt former Eastleigh chief Donald's credentials, question whether he has the financial backing to take the Black Cats forward as well as claim he meddled in first-team matters while in control of the National League outfit.

Stewart Donald

Stewart Donald

The ex-defender, in a series of tweets, said: "Happy bank holiday everyone but I may spoil it with new from SoL.... the consortium and Mr Donald is far from done and may not be as good as we all hoped.

"We may be getting a control freak. Heard Ronnie Moore left Eastleigh as Mr Donald wanted to pick the team.

"I understand that it is Mr Donald who will take over with investors to follow... If we get to Championship then Prem. Again I will stress it's only what I am hearing - lets not get carried away until this has been ratified."

"Sorry for p***ing people off who think I'm negative but if I believe that the person taking over my/our club has no real backing but taking a chance then why not express an opinion. If I'm wrong then I have to see what's best Short or Donald then decide... I want the best."

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Having had the tweets flagged up to him by eagle-eyed Sunderland fans, Donald chose to directly respond.

He replied: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion tbf if that's what he thinks then fair enough. What he thinks not is not as important as what he thinks at the end of my involvement - that is when I should be judged. Subject to the EFL agreeing of course."

Donald's deal to take control of the club from owner Ellis Short is all but agreed at this stage.

The final hoop to jump through is with regards ratification of the deal by the Football League, something which is regarded as a formality.

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Donald was present at the Stadium of Light on Sunday as a Robbie Stockdale-led side hammered champions Wolves 3-0 - the club's parting act in the Championship, as they prepare for League One football next season.

The potential new owner admits he was blown away by the messages of support by many fans, although he understands some may well still be sceptical.

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On Twitter, he said: "Thanks for all the messages from Sunderland. I will concentrate on the EFL approval and as soon as there is news will try and cover off as much as I can. In the meantime, thank you for the reception. Hopefully there will be news soon."

"People will naturally be sceptical. No issue. It's my challenge to show people 1) I care 2) I can deliver 3) I can understand the club and fans. If I'm approved I have to accept there will always be those that don't want me but I will always try and listen."