Stewart Donald has this January transfer message for Sunderland supporters as much-anticipated minutes from fan meeting are released

Stewart Donald has told a meeting of Sunderland AFC supporter groups that the club is well positioned ahead of a crunch January transfer window and is more ahead of the game in terms of preparation than last year.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 6:10 am

The Black Cats are 11th in League One ahead of what is expected to be a busy January window, with up to five new signings targeted by manager Phil Parkinson, under intense pressure from supporters after a dismal start with eight defeats from his opening 12 games in all competitions.

For the past two seasons representatives of the Red And White Army (RAWA) and other fan groups have taken part in a supporters group collective meeting or supporter engagement meeting with SAFC officials, the idea being that clubs meet regularly with independent supporter groups to address key issues.

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Charlie Methven and Stewart Donald.

Minutes from the December 4 meeting read: “SD [Stewart Donald] appointed Phil Parkinson (PP) because he believes he is the right man for the job, he knows the league, is well connected and has a lot of experience; we are more ahead of the game, in terms of preparation for the January transfer window, than we were last year, there is a clear synergy at the club.

“There will be signings for the future.”

Asked about preparations for January, the minutes added: “SD explained loan deals are easier to do as you know which players available, permanent deals must be done more carefully, identifying the correct player and looking at the wider social / practical implications of signing them.”

The initial meeting of the supporters group collective, understood to have been attended by outgoing executive director Charlie Methven among the Sunderland officials, took place on November 21.

A second meeting was then arranged by Donald for December 4.

That was because Donald, who was not present at the initial meeting, was – according to a statement within the December 4 minutes - ‘unhappy with some of the content and answers contained within the draft minutes, which he felt did not reflect the club’s viewpoint.’

A Red and White Army statement read: “At Sunderland, RAWA are one of a number of supporter groups that attend these meetings with SAFC and together everyone agrees an agenda and abides by a pre-agreed Terms of Reference. The rules of the game are that each supporter group and SAFC will each sign off the minutes before they are published.

“The first Structured Dialogue meeting of the season took place on 21st November but no minutes have been agreed for that. A second meeting was convened by Stewart Donald on 4th December which is why there is a short statement from SAFC at the start of the minutes linked to below.

“The majority of the questions members prompted RAWA to ask the club are covered in the minutes below. Some supporters are asking RAWA to divulge what was discussed in the first meeting but we must play by the rules that we agreed to from the outset. If we don't, it is possible we could lose out on being able represent our members at future meetings.

“Rest assured though, we remain completely independent of the club and we represent supporters to the best of our ability in each and every meeting. We will continue to ask questions that you want us to ask and we won't shirk any subject.”

The SAFC statement at the start of the December 4 minutes read: “Following a supporters collective meeting on November 21, the chairman (who was not present at this meeting) was unhappy with some of the content and answers contained within the draft minutes, which he felt did not reflect the club’s viewpoint.

“Taking appropriate action, the chairman then asked to reconvene the meeting (on December 04), where he answered all of the queries from the first meeting and discussed a number of additional topics with the fans groups representatives who were present.

“The full content of the meeting is laid out within the minutes.”

Meanwhile, Sunderland’s board is due to meet today, at which Methven will step down for personal and work-related reasons, as previously reported.

Methven will retain his 6% stake in the club.

The Executive Director is starting a family in the New Year and is looking to step back after a punishing period following his takeover of the club alongside Stewart Donald in the summer of 2018.

Speaking last week Methven said: “This is a really tough decision to make, but for both family and work-related reasons it was something I felt I had to do.

“My wife and I are expecting our first child in the New Year, and the reality of my day job – which is largely political consultancy – is that the first months of a new government will be very challenging.”

He added: “Finally, I would like to thank Stewart, for his unfailing friendship and some great times, the SAFC staff, who have worked hard to keep the club running so professionally as we went about a tough re-structuring and SAFC’s supporters, especially those involved with the Red and White Army and the Branch Liaison Council.

“I strongly believe that with the restructuring completed, and investment in place, the club now has the stable platform to move onwards and upwards.”