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Stewart Donald Q&A: Eight key points

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Stewart Donald Q&A: Eight key points

Post  cyprussyd on 2018-07-31, 7:23 pm

Stewart Donald Q&A: Eight key points from the Sunderland owner's meeting with supporters group
Stewart Donald and Sunderland MD Tony Davison were present at the latest Red and White Army group meeting and answered questions
By
Craig Johns


  • 12:32, 31 JUL 2018


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Sunderland owner Stewart Donald and new managing director Tony Davison held a question and answer session with Sunderland fans on Monday evening.
The pair were present at supporters group Red and White Army’s latest meeting, which was held at the Stadium of Light.
The supporters group have been running for around a year now and originally formed to bring about more communication between the club and fans during the Ellis Short era where communication was lacking.
But under the new regime, where Donald has been as open as possible with the Black Cats fans, RAWA are working closely with the club as an independent voice of the fans to communicate issues, concerns and opinions for change.
You can sign up to become a member of the supporters group at [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] while you can also follow them on Twitter ( @RedAndWhite2017 ) for all the latest news on their business/latest meetings.
But what of last night’s Q & A with Donald and Davison? We round-up the eight key points to come from the meeting.

1. Transfer update


Stewart Donald gave a transfer update and admitted that the club were about ten days behind where they’d like to be in their preparations for the new season.
He said he recognised that a number nine was the priority, but said the club were working on a few deals currently with the squad still short of strength. He also expects two players to leave the club this week too - although which two was not confirmed.
Explaining the transfer process now in place at the club, he explained how Tony Coton and the scouting team identify targets but manager Jack Ross has the final say on if the club pursue a deal. It is Richard Hill’s responsibility to negotiate the transfer, but Donald has the final say on whether the club can finance the deal or not.


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Charlie Wyke of Bradford is the club's top target (Image: Getty Images Europe)
He praised Ross’ approach and said the Black Cats boss understood and was on board with the structure and plans that were in place.

2. Juan Sartori


Donald also gave an update on investor Juan Sartori.
The Uruguayan millionaire is coming on board at the club and passed the EFL’s director test around three weeks ago.

He is set to become a minority shareholder and director at the club and will attend Saturday’s game against Charlton.
While Donald hopes to not lean on Sartori too much financially, his assets certainly make him a useful addition to the club’s hierarchy.
As per A Love Supreme on Twitter, Donald said: “Sartori is a shrewd, sharp businessman with footballing connections. He knows the right sort of people.”
Sartori’s father-in-law owns French Ligue 1 side Monaco, although their connection was only mentioned in passing.

3. Finances




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Sunderland new owner Stewart Donald (Image: PA)
Donald gave an update on finances at the club - in particularly the money still owed to Ellis Short.
That initially stood at £40m but Donald says £15m has already been paid off. There is £25m left to pay to the American, with 18 months with which to do so.
He said the club’s debt is completely wiped, but admitted that the overhead costs of running the club are still very unattractive and need to be addressed.
They’re still suffering from mistakes of the previous regime. Tony Davison gave an example that the club are paying £1,000 per month on plastic plant pots! The general feeling was that things like that are going to change swiftly.
Another thing to note on finances, Davison was also asked about bringing back the concerts again. He said they’re looking into it and would bring them back, providing it made financial sense for the club.

4. The five year vision


If you had any doubts of the ambitions of Donald and the new regime then this should ease it.
Both Donald and Davison spoke about their ambitions for the club.
Donald said he sees the club as a Premier League club - and not just one that aspires to finish 17th every season, but one that is able to compete in the top tier.
Asked his five year vision, MD Davison - A Sunderland fan who once worked for the club in various roles including Samson the Cat - said he sees the club back in the Premier League, competing around 10th-15th by that stage.

5. Shorts




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New Sunderland signing Jerome Sinclair (Image: Sunderland AFC)
There’s been a few complaints about the club’s new kit which has red shorts instead of the more traditional black.
There was a little confusion at the meeting which has since been cleared up by Donald.
The club will wear the red shorts with their home kit.
He admitted he isn’t a fan himself but as he had previously stated, this season’s kits were already finalised before his arrival.
The red shorts are dividing opinion, but they’re here to stay for the remainder of the campaign.


6. Away supporters location


The atmosphere at the Stadium was discussed, in particular the location of away fans.
It was noted that the atmosphere hasn’t been as good since away supporters were relocated into the upper tier north.
This season the Premier Concourse will be closed and all home fans have been moved to the lower bowl of the ground, but away fans will remain in the upper tier.
Donald said that it was too much work relocating home fans this summer to implement any changes to the location of away fans for the upcoming season too. He confirmed he will assess the situation though, and make changes for next season if he sees fit.

7. Fan Zone




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A young Sunderland fan takes a shot in the fan zone (Image: Getty Images Europe)
Many have asked about it and it has been confirmed that the Fan Zone outside the stadium will be back this season, starting with Saturday’s game against Charlton.
Tony Davison said it will be about assessing the situation on an individual game basis. For example, in January if the weather is terrible it is unlikely they will have a fan Zone that day.

8. Ladies team update


The ladies team have now gone into the third division after the club’s appeal against the FA’s decision not to award Sunderland AFC Ladies a licence to participate in The FA Women’s Championship [Tier 2] for the 2018-19 season failed.
Donald is now looking at the possibility of hosting Ladies games at the Academy of Light, but is unsure if it will be up to the league’s standards.
He said he can understand why the club scaled back its support of the Ladies team but is now assessing the options with regards to its future.

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