What REALLY happened when Sunderland signed Will Grigg - as season two of Sunderland 'Til I Die reveals the truth
Sunderland’s dramatic pursuit of Will Grigg has been revealed in season two of ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’ - as the docu-series shows how Stewart Donald ignored the advice of his staff to sign the striker.
The second series of the popular documentary will arrive on Netflix on April 1, and will go behind the scenes during the 2018/19 campaign – and the Echo have been given a peak at all six episodes.
And some of the most revealing footage comes during the January transfer window as Donald looked to sign a replacement for Josh Maja.
Here’s exactly what happened behind the scenes, as shown by the cameras, as Donald launched an all-out assault to sign the Wigan Athletic striker - despite warnings from his staff:
Six days before the deadline: “Just bin it off. What an absolute joke of an idiot.”
Donald is in the midst of his striker search, frequently shown on the phone as he bids to get deals done as his frustration boils over.
He is joined in his Oxfordshire office by Richard Hill and Neil Fox as the trio discuss deals, with recruitment chief Tony Coton on the other end of the line.
Speaking to Coton about an unnamed target, Donald says: “We matched the offer twice, and what they’re now saying is they don’t have the authority to accept the offer, so give us another offer.
“They think we’re desperate, because we’ve got to sign two strikers.”
Donald submits a bid for John Marquis, then of Doncaster Rovers, for £1.5million.
One day before the deadline: Nothing is shown of the days prior, other than a brief interview with Coton in which he confirms the Black Cats had seen a ‘substantial’ bid for Grigg rejected.
Donald, Hill and Fox remain in the offices of Bridle Insurance and communicate with Coton over the phone.
Hill speaks to Coton and receives bad news on one attacking a target: “I know there’s some ridiculous people in football, but is he actually ******* mental?”
Sunderland are quoted a fee of £2million to sign Grigg, which Hill describes as ‘silly money’.
At this point, two bids for the Wigan man have already been rejected. Attempts to sign Marquis have also fallen flat.
Donald grows further frustrated with Sunderland having met the asking price they were previously quoted for top target Grigg.
Deadline day - AM: As the need to sign a striker grows, Donald takes to the phone.
“We’ll take one last shot at Will Grigg,” he says, speaking to Coton.
“I’m going to put an offer in in a second and can you just talk to the guy.”
The fee mentioned by Donald at this point is £1.25 million. He tells Coton that the fee they were initially quoted was £1million, and that they can ‘take it or leave it’ when it comes to this higher offer.
He is once again accompanied by Hill and Fox in his office as the tension rises on deadline day.
Deadline day - PM: As Donald continues his pursuit of Grigg, he phones manager Jack Ross to check how badly the manager wants him.
Ross says: “To be honest Stewart, I know this is probably not the ideal way to look at it, but see the offer you’ve put in? He’s not worth any more than that.
“Not a chance. If you’re getting him for that money, it’s a good offer, then fine. But not the figures they’re talking about, it’s just mental.
“I just wouldn’t do it. He’s not worth it.”
Sunderland’s £1.25million bid is subsequently rejected.
Five hours to the deadline: “What about one more dive in for our main man?”
Hill has his head in his hands as Donald instructs Coton to make another bid for Grigg. The head of football operations has already expressed his view that Sunderland are paying over the odds.
“Up the offer,” says Donald.
“I just think we need him, TC. We might have to change the number at the front.”
Hill makes his feelings on Donald’s latest move clear.
“It’s your money, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do.
“You’ve fallen into the trap of January transfer windows.”
Four hours to the deadline: Donald paces his office, waiting for an update.
The news eventually comes that nothing has changed. Wigan have no intention of selling Grigg, despite Sunderland’s vastly-increased offer.
Back at the Academy of Light, Coton and Charlie Methven are ready to accept defeat and suggest giving the Latics time to cool down.
Two and a half hours to the deadline: Donald is keen to act.
He phones Coton and tells him to take one last shot on Grigg - proposing to offer three instalments of £1million to seal his signature.
“That is it, we can do no more,” he says.
The deal totals £3million, and could rise to almost £4million.
Less than one hour to the deadline: The bid is accepted. It was the sixth one Sunderland had submitted.
But Donald, Hill and Fox now face a race against time to get the paperwork sorted - and to get Grigg, who is in the North West, to agree to a contract.
They have a twenty minute period in which to finalise these details.
The player and his agent take their time, with Hill expressing his frustration that they have knocked-back some of the figures offered.
Grigg eventually signs the deal, although Donald jokes he now doesn’t have enough to pay the pizza delivery man who is en route.
“I’m resigning as chairman next December, I can’t ******* do this again,” he adds.