The Meat On The Bone

There's been a lot of conjecture reported from Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven's first presser, but here's the meat on the bone...

Stewart Donald on staff cuts: "There are a lot of fixed costs. This stadium isn’t cheap to run. That has put pressure on staff and you can sense that when you walk around. When the club got relegated before there were redundancies. All we can promise is will review everything. If we decide that is the right thing to do we will do it and do it quickly and once and that will be that. From staffing levels to the way everything is looked after, the club hasn’t got those revenues. I can’t promise there won’t be [redundancies] but I can promise that the people who live and breath the club, we will fight hard to keep them."

When announced the sale, they said it was to an “international consortium” headed by Stewart Donald, but that is not the case. “There are people who have expressed an interest through this process, as soon as it became clear. And obviously I know people within football and business and they’ve expressed an interest. We’ve done the deal, people have expressed an interest and if I think they’re going to invest in Sunderland for the right reasons, for the same reasons I want to invest and if I think they’re good for it, then I have options to take that money. We don’t need that money to pay Ellis (Short, the former owner) the remaining balance, we don’t need that to fund the club moving forward. It would be a strategic decision if at that time we thought it was the right thing to do for the club. And as you’ll know with varying degrees with regards to the EFL they’ve had to look at the finances and say can I afford the worst-case scenario to run this club in its current guise for two years? It’s not the best financial picture, but that’s fine. So worst-case scenario I’m fine, but there are people I think, one or two, that in due course would be good for the club if they’re willing to come in on a minority basis. One of the guys is Spanish that I would look to... well, he’s not Spanish, but he’s got a Spanish connection, so I suppose that’s where that comes from. But they are international businessmen who would like to get involved. It was just quickest and slickest to get through as it is now. There’s no issue with that if it stays like that, but potentially one or two of these people could be good for the football club.”

Quote of the conference. Charlie Methven “The p***-take party stops now. As passionate football people, we can see Sunderland has lost its sense of what it really is. For too long, this club has been throwing cash at people who don’t really want to be here. That p***-take party stops now. People who come here will be coming here from now on the appropriate salary and because they desperately want to play for one of the greatest clubs in the world. That is what you need here. Is it too much to ask? We don’t think so, but it has to come right from the top, all the way down and everyone has to be working very hard and understand that the money being spent, the vast majority of it is the fans’ money and we are fully aware that in this part of the world, that is hard-earned money. So, it needs to be spent carefully, constructively. What can Sunderland achieve? The answer is that the sky is the limit with the fanbase this club has. The equivalent clubs are not Chelsea or Tottenham. The equivalent clubs are clubs like Borussia Dortmund, who understand what kind of club they really are which is (people from) a big, serious working-class area, passionate about their football club. Do they try to outspend Bayern Munich? No. They to make sure they have a large stadium with accessible pricing and it is absolutely packed out at 60-70,000 per game. That is the model for Sunderland, that’s actually what Sunderland is. It is not about trying to compete with Spurs and trying to be the flash guys which is, I am afraid, where it has gone for the past ten to 15 years. It’s a lack of sense of what this club should be all about. And by doing that, we can reconnect with the fans and the fans will see their values represented on the pitch, their values represented in the boardroom by people who really care, who roll their sleeves up and who really believe in hard work. Hard work, value for money, not taking the mickey, making sure we get 100% from 100%,” he replied. “I’ll give 100% of my time, my finance and everything else and I expect when I walk in here to see the staff do the same, to see the fans be treated as the people who pay everyone’s wages because it’s their club, and I expect to see a group of players proud to play for the club who the fans can get behind. That’s what I expect.”

Stewart Donald on the possibility of Chris Coleman returning. “Potentially, we would look to speak to Chris,” said Donald. “There’s a view of whether or not League One is Chris’ domain, but when we’ve looked at the list of people who have applied, and you say you want to speak to three or four people, I think Chris would potentially be in those three or four. It wasn’t us (who sacked Coleman), and I wouldn’t rule out potentially talking to Chris. We’ve got one week, we believe, to get ourselves organised. From a fans’ perspective, Chris is obviously the visual one. What Ellis Short has done through this whole process is that he has tidied up the business as best he can to reduce the liabilities moving forward. He has decided that Chris is one of those, and that is up to him. That’s absolutely nothing to do with us, and we wouldn’t necessarily exclude Chris from the process of arranging a new manager. It was completely and utterly down to Ellis. We haven’t been able to do anything up to now,” said Donald. “You get a vibe and a feel from the footballing industry (about who might be interested), and there are obviously lots of people who have applied and we’ve looked at those. We’ve got a list of people that have applied that we would be interested in, and we’ve also got another idea about who might be interested in the Sunderland job. Then we have our own people who we think could do a job for Sunderland. But I wouldn’t exclude Chris Coleman from that.”

Donald on the finances and our 'hefty' transfer budget for League One campaign. "We've given Ellis £40m, so that's the deal, and in return Ellis has tidied up his debt and that's now gone from the football club," said Donald. "Ellis was very clear he didn't want the debt, but we didn't want the debt either so we refused that. The reality is Sunderland is debt-free which, for the fans, is good news. Just to be quite clear on that, this summer people who follow the Sunderland situation closely will understand that there's a considerable cash requirement this summer. The discussion with Ellis was that we would be able to pay him over a period of time because he knew that we were going to have quite a lot of investment that needed to be made this summer. Looking at the numbers we have put through, the budget for Sunderland is going to be pretty hefty for League One. It's going to be a lot more than any of the teams that got promoted last season had got. It's going to be a good budget for Sunderland and I'm sure it's a budget one or two Championship clubs would like."