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Meeting with Donald and Rodwell

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Meeting with Donald and Rodwell Empty Meeting with Donald and Rodwell

Post  cyprussyd on 2020-07-18, 12:12 pm

Jim Gilling shared a link.
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As Chair of the Branch Liaison Council, I would like to share with you our notes from the meeting held with Sunderland AFC on 16th July.
In sharing these notes, I would like to take the opportunity to thank those who attended to represent the BLC, other supporters’ groups and all of supporters’ branches who contributed and asked questions in advance. I believe that every question put forward to the BLC was asked on your behalf.
I would like to ask all branches to do what they can to challenge any abuse aimed towards Stewart Donald and club employees. The notes will show that the actions of a small minority of supporters are clearly unacceptable.
The BLC would like to place on record that we do not condone any form of abuse towards Stewart Donald and club employees. The BLC urge supporters to be respectful at all times and refrain from abusive behaviour.
Jim Gilling
Chair
SAFC Branch Liaison Council

Sunderland AFC Branch Liaison Council
Notes of SAFC meeting with Supporters’ Groups held on 16th July 2020.
In attendance:
From SAFC: Jim Rodwell, Stewart Donald, Neil Fox, Oscar Chamberlain, Tom Sloanes and Angela Lowes.
From Supporters’ Groups: Cath Reid and Phil Pollard (BLC), David Rose and Jane Hughes (RAWA), Paul Andrew and Mick Hillam (SLG).
Apologies from Jim Gilling (BLC), Steve Dean (SLG) and Malcolm Bramley (SSG).
Jim Rodwell (JR) welcomed all to the meeting and thanked those present for attending at short notice at the request of Stuart Donald (SD). JR advised that the first item of discussion would be led by SD regarding the sale of the club and the ongoing process.
Sale of the club and ongoing process
SD advised that he had invited the supporters’ groups to the meeting to provide an update on the sale of the club as he was concerned at a number of recent press and social media articles that he felt were factually incorrect or in some cases untrue.
SD also advised of recent serious personal and family abuse that he had received. This included his 12-year old daughter being accompanied home from a bus stop by 3 men in order to confront him, his mobile phone number being published resulting in him receiving over 1100 calls over the course of a weekend and other abuse aimed at members of his family. SD stated that the abuse was deeply hurtful and that he hoped that supporters’ groups would pull together to challenge the behaviour of the minority who were taking things too far. SD stated that he had spent a considerable amount of money in updating security measures in and around his home as a result of the abuse. The issue of personal abuse was something that SD made reference to on a number of occasions throughout the meeting.
SD stated that he was actively trying to sell the club and had been close to completing on a deal prior to the situation with Covid-19. SD stated that he didn’t want to sell the club, but the feeling of supporters was clear to him in that he had been asked to leave.
Neil Fox (NF) outlined the bidding process that may often involve agents. Once interested parties can provide a letter of intent and proof of funds they will be allowed into the “data room” to commence a process of due diligence. NF advised that there was nobody in that position at present.
SD commented on the speculation surrounding a consortium led by Michael Gray (MG). SD stated that the only contact from MG had been in relation to match tickets. NF advised that he had recently contacted MG and was awaiting a response.
NF also made reference to a similar situation involving Sammy Yu as it was believed that the initial bidder involved had withdrawn and a second bidder was being sought. NF also advised that there had not been any contact with any bidders from Saudi Arabia.
It was advised that Tom Sloanes (TS) had been contacted by a potential buyer/investor on Wednesday and that NF has already tried to contact this person/group.
SD advised that he will sell the club if there is a suitable bidder and that the asking price is met. SD will sell for the terms of his original deal with Ellis Short and is not looking to make a profit. SD suggested that he could sell the club to RAWA based on a 37,000-share purchase at £1,000 per head and that he would be flexible on the repayment terms.
SD stated that he wished to be open about the situation as there were a lot of people getting wound up at the current time.
SD advised that the club had seen no proof of funds from the Mark Campbell consortium.
SD apologised for mistakes made in the past and stated that those decisions had been made with the best of intentions.
SD stated that The Daily Mail had made accusations of which SD had then asked the Sunderland Echo to verify the data to refute this. The Sunderland Echo did this. SD advised that some parties still continue to raise this issue even though the Sunderland Echo have verified it as untrue.
SD offered to resign as Chairman of the club with immediate effect if that was the wish of supporters.
SD thanked the BLC for being supportive throughout his time at the club and appreciated the professional and constructive criticism he often had received from the BLC, whereas some supporters’ groups seem to be “hell bent” on an agenda, such as not replacing parachute payments. SD offered to show supporters’ groups any documentation that they wanted to see.
SD stated that the attitude of some supporters could potentially be putting off investors or buyers. SD advised that it would be hard to find a more committed owner of SAFC than himself. SD suggested that supporters’ groups and particularly RAWA have a responsibility to challenge negative assumptions.
TS made reference to reputational damage and that supporters needed to be aware that this could impact upon a sale or investment. Some potential buyers may see too much risk attached to their investment if supporters were constantly protesting or abusing employees. TS asked what could be done to improve things on this front?
TS stated to those present that if anyone had any questions or concerns to get in touch with him and not to wait 6 weeks in-between meetings. TS asked that supporters’ groups act as positive disrupters and work together for the benefit of all.
SD hoped that when the club accounts are published that people will apologise and see that the parachute payments have been replaced.
SD advised that there appears to be an approach from some that any positive news is ignored and that there is a continued focus upon the negative. SD stated that when he was first asked to leave, it was following a supporters’ meeting with Charlie Methven (CM) and a number of inappropriate and upsetting comments had been made by CM. SD advised that he subsequently dealt with the situation.
In following that meeting, SD stated that there was a means of appropriate communication available however RAWA chose not to have a mature conversation and instead SD was publicly asked to ‘just sell’.
SD stated that if the abuse continued, he could be quite within his rights to sell the club to the first person who has the necessary funds, however this may not be a good move for the club. SD asked what could be done to stop a minority of supporters threatening his family and being abusive?
JR asked that all supporters’ groups present communicate with their members to request that the club is given some breathing space, as a show of unity would assist with the sale.
At this point the meeting was opened up to questions from supporters’ groups.
The RAWA opened the questions on behalf of supporters’ groups. Those questions and answers have been comprehensively covered in the notes of the meeting released by RAWA which can be found using the below link.
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A large proportion of the questions raised by RAWA were similar to those raised by BLC members and were therefore not asked to avoid repetition.
Additional comments relating to the questions raised by the BLC and SLG are as below.
Paul Andrews (SLG) stated that supporters’ groups would like SD to sell to a credible buyer and that there was a myth that SD was hoping to achieve promotion to the Championship before selling the club. SD advised that this was simply not the case.
On behalf of the BLC, PP expressed concern at the behaviour of a minority of supporters particularly those who had been involved in the incident with SD’s daughter, stating that he was shocked to be hearing of this for the first time.
PP also challenged the statement made by TS in terms of a lack of supporters’ groups taking action against abuse. PP provided of examples of where this type of behaviour had been challenged by supporters’ groups in the past and referred to a recent communication with all official supporters’ branches concerning the unacceptable abuse of front -line ticket office staff. Cath Reid (CR) also confirmed that unacceptable behaviour had been challenged. TS apologised for his comment as he wasn’t aware of action being taken.
PP asked SD to confirm his previous comments made during the meeting for clarity in that:
• The club is for sale at an asking price of £37.6m
• All parachute payments will be returned to the club before any sale transaction is completed.
• Some parachute payment money is currently being used for day to day operating costs due to a lack of income as a result of Covid-19.
Both SD and JR confirmed that was the correct position.
NF made reference to the difficulties being caused to income due to Covid-19, for example the new kit being delayed as a result of transportation issues as this would be a regular income source at this stage of the year.
CR asked what was being done to silence CM as his comments were causing huge upset amongst supporters and continued to do so. Reference was made to a recent online interview.
SD advised that CM was no longer part of the club board and had apologised personally for recent comments. SD expressed disappointment in what was said and that often he and CM would have a different recollection of events.
SD stated that he is honoured to be chairman of the club and that he has a lot of time for the huge majority of fans who are passionate, loyal and vocal. SD stated that he loved his experiences of spending time with fans during away matches.
PP questioned SD on the publication of the annual accounts and sought clarification as to whether this may allay supporters fears in regard to the repayment of parachute payments.
SD advised that the published accounts would do exactly that and he had requested that Angela Lowes (AL) makes the information publicly available as soon as is possible. In response to a further question SD also confirmed that he, as Chairman, would be providing an overview within the published accounts.
CR questioned why SD didn’t release details of any personal financial support that he had made towards the Foundation of Light, a local foodbank or towards the purchase of kits for local football teams. SD advised that he didn’t take those actions for any limelight and that he was happy to continue with that approach.
PP questioned SD and NF on the sale of the club regarding an issue that had been raised by one of the supporters’ branches. This related to a potential interested party being rebuffed just prior to lockdown on the grounds that the club were already a long way through the process with another bidder and that a “head turning offer would need to be made”.
In response to NF, PP advised of a Dubai based group as the interested party. NF stated that he had received no contact from that party and that he would be happy to hold conversations. PP agreed to feed back NF’s comments to the source of enquiry.
Ongoing Financial Support
PP questioned if the manager would be supported financially once there was a plan for football to return, rather than the approach of the previous season in relying on free transfers and loan deals.
JR confirmed that the manager would be supported and that the club would most likely have the most competitive budget in the league. JR advised that there were a number of plans in place for when it was possible to move forwards.
NF stated that support and planning was not just down to money and that often loan signings and free transfers can be exactly what is needed.
Academy
JR advised that the Academy was to retain the Category One status for the forthcoming season and that there were no plans to downgrade it.
DR questioned why Paul Reid, the Head of the Academy had left the club. JR stated that there was nothing untoward with the departure and that PR had played a big part in the retention of the Category One status.
NF praised the contribution of Paul Reid who had worked tirelessly for the last 2 years and had left with the best wishes of the club.
JR suggested that there will always be bigger clubs interested in picking from the crop of best talent. JR advised that it can often be difficult to keep young players when the likes of Manchester United or Liverpool make an approach. It was further advised that The Premier League’s Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) denies lower league clubs a true market value for young players.
NF suggested that it was rare to maintain Category One academy in League One, however it was wrong to suggest that the club are selling young talented players to aid cash flow.
NF advised that the aim is to retain young players and to create a pathway through to the first team.
TS stated that the majority of crowds at youth games are made up of scouts looking to poach the best of the available talent.
JR also explained that agents also influence young players to move on, more so for the benefit of the agent.
NF and JR advised that the whole of the academy set up has been reviewed and currently has a lean structure with running costs of around £3m per annum. The appointment of a new Head of Academy will be key in moving things forward.
Salary Cap
JR outlined the EFL proposals to introduce a salary cap in League One of £2.5m per annum, which was inclusive of any bonuses and N.I and would effectively leave around £2.1m for salaries.
JR advised that the club were opposed to having a set figure as the proposed £2.5m would not even allow the club to spend all season card income. In addition, some other clubs may need additional financial support from owners or benefactors to achieve being able to spend that much. JR believed that many of the other clubs in the league may vote in favour of the proposal.
Start of 20/21 Season
JR could not provide a definitive answer as to when the 20/21 season will start and believed that the club could not start without supporters or some form of financial assistance to address the lack of income generated by supporters’ attendance.
JR suggested that the start date for the season could be 12 September, and that the club were awaiting feedback from the EFL in relation to a survey that has been undertaken of all clubs.
JR confirmed that the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) and Local Authorities would make a decision as to when supporters would be allowed to attend.
NF stated that the club will follow the Government guidelines on the matter concerning the health and safety of all involved.
Both CR and DR stressed the importance of consulting supporters’ groups when making any decisions about attendance levels particularly if there were more season card holders than any proposed capacity level.
CR suggested that Branch and RAWA flags could be used within the stadium if a partial return of fans is allowed as some of the Premier League flag displays had been effective. All present agreed that this was a good idea.
NF suggested that in planning for the new season that players and the majority of furloughed staff would be returning to work in the next two to four weeks.

Any other business
All supporters’ groups recognised the intention of the club to build bridges with supporters’ and the club asked for suggestions as to how this could be done.
JR acknowledged the season a ticket refunds issue had been incredibly difficult to manage and that mistakes had been made.
NF also acknowledged that mistakes had been made and that the club had believed that they were doing the right thing. In future supporters’ groups will be fully consulted.
PA suggested that the club attempt to re-engage with supporters in local towns by hosting open training sessions or friendly matches should attendance be allowed at venues such as Spennymoor, Bishop Auckland, Durham etc. CR supported this and advised JR of the successful pre-season games held previously at Bishop Auckland versus Real Betis and Udinese.
DR questioned if the club were still providing support to the Sunderland Ladies team, considering the loss of several players recently.
AL advised that all necessary plans were in place should the team have achieved promotion however this had been prevented due to Covid-19. It was further advised that the FA would be supportive of an application for promotion in the future. AL suggested that the ladies’ team did have a number of signings lined up for when football could re-start.
NF praised the work of Mel Copeland and her success in retaining players and that the club remain committed to their support.
CR questioned if it was still the intention of the club to host concerts at the stadium. The reason for the question was to establish the medium to long term plans of the board concerning income and ensure that this possible income stream was not being overlooked due to a potential sale in the short term.
AL advised that it was still the intention of the club to hold concerts in the long term however all plans were currently on hold due to Covid-19.
NF responded to a question of the recruitment of employees from Eastleigh Football Club. NF stated that Ray Murphy (RM), the new club secretary, had already received abusive messages since he had commenced his role. NF advised that RM was employed at Eastleigh prior to the arrival of SD and left to move to Swindon Town. NF advised that RM applied for the role independently and was interviewed by outgoing club secretary Brett Baker who endorsed him as the best person for the role. Both NF and SD advised that they are comfortable to employ people who they have worked with before, that they value, trust and can be successful in their role, which is a common practice in business. It was advised that RM has made a positive start in his role and that the minority of supporters who have been abusive towards him should give him a break and allow him to get on with what he is employed to do.

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Meeting with Donald and Rodwell Empty Re: Meeting with Donald and Rodwell

Post  cyprussyd on 2020-07-18, 12:22 pm

I find it very sad and to be honest very embarrassing to hear of the abuse Donald and his family are receiving from people who say they are fans like me. To disagree with the owners style of ownership is fine, its allowed. To follow his young daughter home is not only wrong its also pointless. Donald is aware that some fans want him gone and I stress the word some, I wish they would explain exactly what they hope to achieve my abusing him. I have always been proud to say that we have some of the best fans in football, I dont need or want the idiots.

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Meeting with Donald and Rodwell Empty Re: Meeting with Donald and Rodwell

Post  Kipper on 2020-07-18, 12:31 pm

cyprussyd wrote:I find it very sad and to be honest very embarrassing to hear of the abuse Donald and his family are receiving from people who say they are fans like me. To disagree with the owners style of ownership is fine, its allowed. To follow his young daughter home is not only wrong its also pointless. Donald is aware that some fans want him gone and I stress the word some, I wish they would explain exactly what they hope to achieve my abusing him. I have always been proud to say that we have some of the best fans in football, I dont need or want the idiots.
Totally agree that abuse is not acceptable.
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Post  Kipper on 2020-07-18, 12:41 pm

Also not acceptable is the way the club have treated fans of late and blaming fans for difficulty in selling. Maddrox were close to a sale twice and it wasn't the fans that screwed it up. The majority of fans are decent and just want answers. Finally Donald meets fans groups but at very short notice.

It's clear he wants out but is his asking price reasonable? Potential buyers are now going to be concerned about the state of the club with dwindling revenue through lower crowds and a team stagnating in League 1.
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Post  cyprussyd on 2020-07-18, 1:04 pm

Kipper wrote:Also not acceptable is the way the club have treated fans of late and blaming fans for difficulty in selling. Maddrox were close to a sale twice and it wasn't the fans that screwed it up. The majority of fans are decent and just want answers. Finally Donald meets fans groups but at very short notice.

It's clear he wants out but is his asking price reasonable? Potential buyers are now going to be concerned about the state of the club with dwindling revenue through lower crowds and a team stagnating in League 1.
Yes Donald seems to be pricing a big club with great training facilities and big history.  If I was buying I would see a third season division one club, a pandemic that has devalued clubs and players and big investment needed, maybe not this season but certainly in seasons to come hopefully.

He says he wants his money back and values that at 30 mil plus but has he invested that amount? It seems most of the 30 mil was paid out of parachute payments not out of his pocket. On top of the 30 mil he wants we have the other two to pay off.

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Post  oldblackcat on 2020-07-19, 9:15 am

cyprussyd wrote:
Kipper wrote:Also not acceptable is the way the club have treated fans of late and blaming fans for difficulty in selling. Maddrox were close to a sale twice and it wasn't the fans that screwed it up. The majority of fans are decent and just want answers. Finally Donald meets fans groups but at very short notice.

It's clear he wants out but is his asking price reasonable? Potential buyers are now going to be concerned about the state of the club with dwindling revenue through lower crowds and a team stagnating in League 1.
Yes Donald seems to be pricing a big club with great training facilities and big history.  If I was buying I would see a third season division one club, a pandemic that has devalued clubs and players and big investment needed, maybe not this season but certainly in seasons to come hopefully.

He says he wants his money back and values that at 30 mil plus but has he invested that amount? It seems most of the 30 mil was paid out of parachute payments not out of his pocket. On top of the 30 mil he wants we have the other two to pay off.
Donald says the remainder of the money that was loaned (by madox?) will be paid back before any sale goes through...(still about 11 million) I think this is included in his sale price
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Post  oxfordshire on 2020-07-24, 12:52 pm

Thanks Syd for the information.  I cannot understand this so called movement against SD.
It frightens me to think what he may be replaced by.
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Post  Black Cat Kiwi on 2020-07-24, 10:28 pm

cyprussyd wrote:
Kipper wrote:Also not acceptable is the way the club have treated fans of late and blaming fans for difficulty in selling. Maddrox were close to a sale twice and it wasn't the fans that screwed it up. The majority of fans are decent and just want answers. Finally Donald meets fans groups but at very short notice.

It's clear he wants out but is his asking price reasonable? Potential buyers are now going to be concerned about the state of the club with dwindling revenue through lower crowds and a team stagnating in League 1.
Yes Donald seems to be pricing a big club with great training facilities and big history.  If I was buying I would see a third season division one club, a pandemic that has devalued clubs and players and big investment needed, maybe not this season but certainly in seasons to come hopefully.

He says he wants his money back and values that at 30 mil plus but has he invested that amount? It seems most of the 30 mil was paid out of parachute payments not out of his pocket. On top of the 30 mil he wants we have the other two to pay off.
Good points Syd.

What I would add is that MOST companies are not worth what they were so to break even will be only possible if he has the cash in the bank to fund current fixed cost cashflow. The banks are not lending.

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