Tony Gillan: Why clarity is much-needed when it comes to up-for-sale Sunderland's future and Stewart Donald

With 23 games played Sunderland have now played over half their league fixtures. So how does everyone think it’s going?

Thursday, 9th January 2020, 12:00 pm

I think “disappointing, but not hopeless” is the mots juste.

Recent performances suggest that they aren’t as bad as was supposed. But ninth place and behind (insert name of much smaller club) suggests they haven’t done nearly as well as hoped.

Lincoln City were truly terrible during Saturday’s first half. However, that doesn’t mean Sunderland weren’t very good.

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Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald.

They passed well and quickly, harassed and forced opponents into errors, which were punished.

They were also clearly the better side at Fleetwood and should have won. They would have done too, but for poor finishing; while no one could claim that Fleetwood’s penalty was warranted and expect to be taken seriously.

Doncaster on December 29 was probably Sunderland’s best performance so far and the 2-1 scoreline didn’t reflect their dominance.

The last three games have restored some optimism and quietened the clamour for the manager’s P45.

They have also stemmed the boring ritual developing after each game of us being told it was “a new low” or “lowest position ever” (which actually means the same thing). More clichés than you could shake a stick at.

Still, it’s going to take more than three decent shows to erase the memories of some historically poor performances, as well as the nonplussing negativity that accompanied them.

Off the pitch, it’s difficult to form firm opinions because what we are told has been vague, mixed or, certainly in my case, provided by people who preface their information/tripe with “This is gospel, right...”

I think all four Evangelists deserve more respect than to have their name appended to some of the cobblers I’ve heard about Aiden McGeady.

We still don’t know exactly what McGeady did to effectively be sacked.

As he has played under three previous Sunderland managers who had no problem with the player we know of, as well as signing a new contract last summer, we’re entitled to wonder.

As for developments in the boardroom, well it’s perfectly straightforward. Nonetheless, here’s some extra clarity.

The chairman, Stewart Donald, has reiterated that the club is “debt-free”, although a £10million loan has been taken out.

Mr Donald says: “The loan I took from the Americans I made sure came back to me, not the football club.” However, the loan is secured against the fixed assets of the club.

We don’t know how much remains owed to Ellis Short, the money due to whom was secured against parachute payments, which halt at the end of this season.

Despite the drivel that the Daily Mail are sticking to, the club was NOT bought with parachute payments, which seem increasingly likely to be trousered by Short in their near entirety.

SAFC is for sale. We don’t know the asking price. The Americans referred to aren’t, according to Donald, making an offer. But “we sold them our vision of what we wanted to do.”

We don’t know either how much will be spent in January. It could be the £10million borrowed by the debt-free club. Or possibly nothing, if Mr Donald moves on and simply returns the money.

That’s enough boardroom clarity for now. There’s no need to thank me.

Half-term report is C-. They’ll need an A+ in the second half.