Stewart Donald issues passionate defence of Sunderland ownership and hits back at latest sale talk amid parachute payment claims

Stewart Donald has insisted that he will be part of Sunderland's long-term future after claims that he is willing to sell the club for £50 million.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 11:08 pm
Stewart Donald has passionately defended his ownership of Sunderland

Specifically, the use of parachute payments from the Premier League to fund the purchase.

Charlie Methven confirmed that in programme notes for the club last September, but the Mail claims that the fee used was higher than previously believed.

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Donald says that as a result of the deal agreed with Ellis Short to buy the club, Sunderland's parachute payments from the Premier League were used to pay off the final part of the club's external debts to SBC.

Short cleared the club of all debt in aftermath of his sale to Donald.

Donald, who remains in talks over fresh investment in the club, insists he is in it for the long term and said the club's turnaround since he took over has been 'profound'.

In a statement, Donald wrote: "Madrox agreed a deal worth £40 million with Ellis Short. This was £15 million plus last summer’s parachute payment of £25 million – which came in just after we took over and was ring-fenced to pay off the last bit of bank debt.

“So together Ellis and I ensured that the club would be debt free. Ellis by writing off his own debt of £80 million and then, with the assistance of that last parachute payment, paying off the £70 million of bank debt the club had accrued. And me by refusing to ‘port’ Ellis’ debt onto our books, as usually happens when clubs are taken over. We then took over Sunderland’s extensive football debts and legal liabilities, amounting to around £30 million at the time of the takeover, and have gradually worked our way through them, negotiating hard all the way.

“Instead of having last summer’s parachute payment to settle these debts, Juan Sartori and I have had to inject our own money and continue to do so even now, effectively writing down the £25million parachute payment that was advanced to Ellis," he continued.

"In the meantime, of course, there has also been investment on the playing side of the club, which has seen a record League 1 playing wages bill and a record League 1 transfer budget.

“I have been clear from the outset that we bought the club at a rock bottom price because of the dreadful financial state it was in. If I simply wished to make money out of Sunderland, we could have skimped on investment in the playing staff. And, we could have accepted Ellis' offer to port a large portion of his previous debt onto our company, kept the details of the purchase more confidential and sold the club in its entirety - for which I have had plenty of big offers.

"Instead, I have been as open and transparent as possible with the fans and I am clear that I wish to retain a significant investment in the club for the long-term. The notion that I am going to leave Sunderland in the short-term, having made a quick profit, is simply wrong.

"Just over a year ago, Sunderland was in very poor condition, both on and off the field. Twelve months on, the club is debt free and is in a position to come close to break-even over the next twelve months. Furthermore, I am now in the process of ensuring that there is the appropriate level of investment available to provide competitive playing budgets on an ongoing basis.

“The turnaround has been very profound, and Ellis, ourselves and Sunderland's wonderful fans have all played our respective parts in that."