Sunderland fans have been told to expect clarity on the club’s ownership soon but the Black Cats are already behind their own schedule.
Since he bought the Black Cats from Ellis Short in May 2018, Stewart Donald has been open about the fact it would probably require new investment if the club achieved his ambition of returning to the Premier League.
It emerged in early June that a group headed by New York-based businessman Mark Campbell was looking to buy the majority of Donald’s shares this summer, but the absence of any confirmation and a slow start to the transfer window have raised supporter concern, and led to speculation that the deal may not go ahead.
In minutes from the latest meeting with supporters, held on June 13, executive director Charlie Methven promised clarity soon, but Sunderland have already missed their target of the end of last month.
“It’s no secret that we’ve spoken to many investors since February/March,” Methven reiterated to representative of the Sunderland Supporters Liaison Group, fans group the Red and White Army, the Branch Liaison Council, Disabled Branch and Senior Supporters Association.
“I can’t comment on specific stories, but we’ve been quite clear that we want to come to a resolution, at least in the short term, by the end of June.
“Answers will become clear very soon: either somebody will come in as an investor or Stewart will come out and say that things will remain as they are for the time being.”
While Donald is a rich businessman, he is not in the same league as those who own clubs at the top end of the Championship, or the Premier League’s billionaires.
The failure to win promotion from League One last season – Sunderland were beaten by an added-time goal in the play-off final against Charlton Athletic – means new investment is no longer necessary to compete at the top of the table, but having identified Campbell as someone who can continue the work they have started in rebuilding bridges with supporters, Donald was minded to take the opportunity now if a deal could be struck.
“We’re looking at finding people with the additional resource to put into the club but who also ‘get it’,” stressed Methven, underlining what he and Donald have said all along. “The club needs a bit of stability and need people who want to take it on and add to it, rather than ripping it up and having a different model.”
Last month Donald said he wanted “six to eight” new signings this summer , but as yet only two senior players have been forthcoming. Right-back Conor Washington and goalkeeper Lee Burge have joined this month, along with under-23 players Ahmed Abdelkader, Ruben Sammut and Michael Collins. Long-serving midfielder Lee Cattermole has been released.
The League One transfer window is open until September 2.
The Daily Record is reporting that the Black Cats have made an offer to winger Chris Cadden, but may miss out on him because of the ownership uncertainty.
Cadden is a free agent having run down his contract at Motherwell, but as he is only 22 years-old, Well would be entitled to compensation.
Despite the search for new investment, Methven appeared relaxed if Sunderland were to go up without it.
“If and when the club does get promoted to the Championship then revenue should go up by around £9m, this includes a £6.5m uplift in TV money, increased sponsorship and ticketing revenue,” he told the meeting. “£30m of operating revenue I believe would be the second highest in the Championship (on current figures), just behind Leeds. On those numbers, the club should be able to break even with a upper mid-table playing wages budget.”
.(tagsToTranslate)Charlie Methven(t)Sunderland AFC(t)Lee Cattermole(t)Stewart Donald