Stewart Donald on Sunderland sale plans, January and why he doesn't expect FPP group to take over

Stewart Donald has said that he does not expect the FPP group to try and purchase Sunderland AFC.

Friday, 3rd January 2020, 6:46 pm

In an interview with BBC Newcastle on Friday night, Donald said that he expected that process to take ‘a month or two’.

However, he does not think that the American consortium, made up of John Phelan, Robert Platek and Glenn Fuhrman, will make another attempt to buy the club.

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Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald

The group were in talks over a takeover in the summer but eventually opted to inject £9 million into the club’s holding company, Madrox.

Documents at Companies House subsequently showed that to be a loan secured against the club and its assets.

Donald again denied that the initial prospect of a takeover had fallen through due to his valuation.

“I think if they were going to buy it, they would have done so already,” Donald said.

“They invested the money on the basis that we would be there to oversee it.

“Their view on it is that they’re 3,000 miles away, they invest in management teams.

“Their investment was in me.

“So if I’m not there, it’s unlikely I think that they’ll want to take on. Never say never but [I think its unlikely].”

On suggestions that a difference in valuations had initially been the issue in the summer, he added: “Not a chance.

“That’s categorically untrue.

“We were close to concluding on another deal, we dropped that because we believed they were the right partner.

“Their preference was to invest and then potentially further invest, not own it.

“It was never a control transaction, even if they bought it they wanted to leave the management team in place.

“It’s unlikely that they will look to do anything other than just depart when the deal is done.”

Donald went to say that the money had not yet been spent and that as such, he would pay it back in the event that he agrees a sale of the club with another party.

The chairman has not yet held advanced talks over the sale, but says he has returned to the parties who have previously expressed an interest.

“The logical thing was to get back on to people who have expressed an interest [in the past], we’ve had lots,” he said.

“I thought the best thing for the club was to get the investment from the American guys, invest that in the way we thought best, but with the view that the fans want something different, I’ve gone back to some of the other options and I’m now talking to them about whether they’d like to revisit taking the club on.”

Donald also insisted that he will back Phil Parkinson in the January window despite his decision to pursue the sale of the club.

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The Black Cats have dropped to 13th in the table, with Parkinson winning just three games since replacing Jack Ross.

However, Donald said that he believed performances were improving and that given the open nature of the divison this season, a strong January could leave the club in with a realistic chance of promotion.

“The important thing is to tell the fans where it is,” he said.

It’s a critical time [to call for the sale of the club], seven days before the transfer window, and I get that because of where the results are and it’s all about results.

“It’s been said that something had to change, I think that if results had changed a little bit because the performances are starting to come, that might be actually be what the club would have needed.

“A week before the transfer window, the biggest concern is January and what it means for Phil.

“The most important thing the fans need to know, is we’ve got our scouting organising, we’ve got our targets, we believe that if we have a strong back end and a strong January, with the way the league is setting up, we have a chance.

“We absolutely will strengthen.

“That’s the most important message for the fans.

“I’m committed to leaving the club in the best possible positon.”