Stewart Donald hits back at Sunderland academy claim
Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has hit back at recent reports claiming the club could lose their Category One academy status.
A recent article by the Daily Mail, which has attracted a huge backlash from fans on social media, questioned several elements of last summer's takeover deal to buy the Black Cats - specifically the use of parachute payments from the Premier League to fund the purchase.
The piece also reported that Sunderland's academy, the club’s 'crown jewel', was in danger of being downgraded, a claim which particularly frustrated Donald.
"It's had a massive effect for us in the academy," Donald told BBC Newcastle radio show Total Sport when discussing the article.
"The academy has got cat one status, it's got cat one status next year, it's had more investment in it for the first time I think in ages.
"We're looking at buying players this summer to put into the youngsters, to see if we can purchase our own talent that we're having poached from us.
"But we have parents in the academy going, 'if you want to downgrade the academy we want our kids to leave', that's going to cost us money.
"I got onto the paper and said where have they got that from and they said, 'well that's the rumour',
"We've got a cat one academy that's one of the best in the country, it's guaranteed to be a cat one academy next year and we're spending more on it than ever."
Donald once again challenged the Mail's claim that only £5million of his own money was used to fund last summer's takeover, with parachute payments providing the rest of the funds to buy the club from Ellis Short.
Charlie Methven confirmed that in his programme notes last September, but the Mail reported the fee used was higher than previously believed.
Donald, though, says the Mail's claims are inaccurate, and presumed the paper had only looked at the financial accounts two months after the takeover took place.
The Sunderland owner also reiterated that he will remain at the club next season, despite reports he could sell and make a huge profit.
"I don't think it's been any secret that we've been looking for investment but I am very, very hopeful I'm going to be at Sunderland for a long time," Donald added.
"I may well have to give up some of my stake but I'm not leaving, I can't leave Sunderland Football Club not with how it is, I absolutely love it.
"We need to get a bit more financial firepower, I've not hid that but I want to stay."