What the future holds for Juan Sartori at Sunderland AFC as Stewart Donald continues sale talks
It all started so brightly.
Decked out in an away shirt, Juan Sartori joined fans in the Roker End as they indulged in a rendition of ‘if you hate Newcastle, clap your hands’.
There were similar scenes in Trafalgar Square where he helped Wearsiders paint the capital red and white.
But things have since tailed off. Sartori hasn’t been seen in months, his current commitment to the club and his future plans uncertain.
So where do both he and the club stand ahead of a crucial juncture?
We examine what we know, what he has delivered and what the future may hold:
WHAT WE KNOW
Sartori purchased a 20% stake in the Black Cats shortly after Stewart Donald assumed ownership.
It was Sartori’s first involvement in football - although he did mount an unsuccessful takeover bid for Oxford United in 2017 - and it was hoped his connections would help the Black Cats in both a financial and footballing sense.
He embraced the club and its support early on, appearing at a number of home games in club colours.
Post-match, Sartori enjoyed video-calling friends and relatives to show off the Stadium of Light.
He clearly enjoyed being a part-owner of a football club, but from afar that enthusiasm seems to have dampened in recent months.
The businessman last attended a game in August, but it must be noted that he has continued to support the club - especially financially.
WHAT HIS INVOLVEMENT HAS YIELDED
It’s hard to see the material impact of Sartori’s involvement with the Black Cats - but we do know he has contributed financially.
Charlie Methven confirmed late last year that the Uruguayan had pumped extra finance into the club in September, and that isn’t the only time he has provided some financial assistance.
There was, of course, a hope at the start of his time at the Stadium of Light that his involvement could attract further investment - most notably from Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, the owner of Monaco and his father-in-law. No such developments transpired.
There was also a belief that Sartori could help the club recruit talent from further afield, bolstering the club’s category one academy.
Donald later suggested that red tape was thwarting such moves and, as of yet, no South American players have arrived.
Much of Sartori’s contribution, therefore, seems to have been immaterial. There is little in terms of assets and individuals to show for his shareholding and, in truth, it may never be known to what extent he helped the club.
WHERE HAS HE BEEN?
Sartori hasn’t been seen on Wearside since the opening day of the season. There have, however, been several reasons for his absence.
His desire to launch a political career saw Sartori spend the majority of time in his homeland - as he first saw his bid for the presidency end, before then being elected as a senator.
It’s also well-documented that Sartori welcomed a daughter into the world in 2018, and was keen to spend more time with his family.
But most of his time is spent on political ventures.
Sartori regularly posts social media updates of him on the campaign trail, while also hosting Facebook Q&A sessions.
And it’s from one of those broadcasts that we know Sartori was in London in December - the time a club board meeting was set to take place, with a representative of FPP Sunderland in attendance.
Sartori said he was attending a ‘meeting’, so it remains unclear whether he was indeed in attendance alongside his fellow shareholders.
Methven claimed late last year that from December onwards, Sartori would be a far more visible presence at the club. As of yet, that has not materialised.
His future at the club is uncertain, especially given Donald’s desire to sell. Whether Sartori remains a shareholder is yet to be confirmed.
Had Mark Campbell completed his summer takeover, then Sartori would have walked away from the club. That is no guarantee that any future takeover deal would see the Uruguayan depart, but does suggest that he would be willing to should a suitable deal be struck.
However, Sartori must legally spend one week per month in his homeland as part of his senatorial duties and that, coupled with his young family, could mean continued SAFC involvement is difficult to maintain.