'Time for change' 'Club needs new owners' - Our Sunderland writers deliver verdict on Stewart Donald, sale plans and takeover talk
But the biggest change could be in the boardroom, with Stewart Donald still looking to sell the club with the relationship between owners and fanbase fractured, seemingly beyond repair.
Our team of Sunderland AFC writers deliver their verdicts on the sale plans and Donald’s spell on Wearside.
Phil Smith – ‘Sunderland is simply nowhere near where it should and needs to be, time for change.’
Two years on from the end of Ellis Short's tenure, Sunderland's future looks no clearer and no loss troubling.
We've now watched two failed attempts to get out of League One and what do we have to show for it?
There is little sign of a dependable, strategic vision for recruitment.
There remain a lot of excellent players and staff in the category one academy, but the failure to keep hold of the best talent as they move towards professional terms means there is a dearth of players knocking on the door in the key age groups.
A combination of these two factors leave fans with little confidence at this stage that next season will be any better and you can understand why, particularly with parachute payments coming to an end.
What the club did have in that first season in League One was a unity and sense of shared purpose.
That is now gone and there is only the ownership to blame for that.
A lack of day-to-day leadership on Wearside, a continued lack of clarity of financial matters, two debilitating failed takeovers and a football team that has not progressed have entirely undermined trust between supporters and the club.
Lofty promises have not been delivered on and it is unquestionably time for change.
In the current climate, that is going to require a realistic asking price that reflects the scale of investment any new owner would have to take.
It's equally important that when change comes, the new regime can deliver the kind of stability that will allow for a long-term vision to be put in place.
There is much that can be done in the interim period to aid that process, starting in the academy and in recruitment.
Sunderland is simply nowhere near where it should and needs to be.
Time for change.
Mark Donnelly – ‘The relationship between Donald and supporters is beyond repair.’
Sunderland fans have grown to learn to take everything said by the current owners with a pinch of salt.
For while Stewart Donald's regime has promised plenty, there is little to show for their efforts.
Two years on from their purchase of the club from Ellis Short, it's hard to see any way in which the club are in a better state than they were when they dropped into League One.
Operations have been stripped back, the academy are losing talent and once again Sunderland supporters are braced for a summer when some of their better players depart. There is no sense of a long-term vision, no coherent recruitment plan and very little hope to cling to.
The reality we now find ourselves in is a long way from the brash statements that heralded Donald and Charlie Methven's arrival.
Since then, there have been promises of a 100 point season, followed by a summer transfer window in which only one of the club's signings commanded a transfer fee. In January, five players arrived - two free agents, and three players on loan.
There is also the lack of clarity on the club's financial position, a string of miscommunications which could have been easily avoided,
We have also repeatedly been told that Juan Sartori will take an active role in the club, but it's now been approaching a year since he was seen on Wearside - and many are still unsure as to what he actually brings to the table.
So you can forgive Sunderland fans for being sceptical that Donald will fulfill his latest promise - to sell the club.
But this is one promise that he cannot afford to go back on.
While much is uncertain at the club at present, particularly given the uncharted waters English football is preparing to enter, one thing is certainly clear at Sunderland.
This club needs new ownership. The relationship between Donald and supporters is beyond repair and a change is needed.
Richard Mennear – ‘Time for change, the fanbase has suffered too long.’
There are few on Wearside who would argue it isn't time for change at the Stadium of Light.
The relationship between the fans and Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven & Co is beyond repair.
The season card plans controversy the latest wedge to come between the fanbase and the owners, coming quickly off the back of the latest parachute payment story and before the League One season was ended.
Sunderland facing another season in the third tier. It is barely believable if we hadn't all lived through it.
Many hoped the club had reached its lowest ebb two years ago when SAFC suffered back-to-back relegations to the third tier for only the second time in the club's proud history.
Hopes were high under new ownership there would be an immediate bounce back up the divisions.
Yet here we are two years on, still stuck in League One - albeit they can count themselves unfortunate they didn't get to finish this season despite it never really feeling like a promotion-winning one.
Parachute payments are to end, costs have been slashed but remain high given the facilities at the club; Stadium of Light, Academy of Light, the Academy etc, and another major turnover of players is on the cards.
All with seemingly endless takeover talk rumbling on in the background. Uncertainty reigns again.
A lack of vision or clear plan, mixed messages and understandable financial concerns have the fanbase worried and concerned for the future direction of the club.
A sale is needed. Sooner the better. The price has to be realistic given the club's position in the football pyramid, while it is also imperative the club is sold to the right people, the right group, who have the funds to take the club forward.
Nothing appears to be imminent but the time for change is now.
The fanbase has suffered too long.