Sunderland majority shareholder Stewart Donald resigned as the club’s chairman on Saturday. However, due to the former Eastleigh owner still being in control, very little, if anything has changed at the Stadium of Light.
The decision by Donald to step down as chairman followed a heated meeting with supporters late last week. After two of the lowest league finishes in their history, the majority of fans appear to want a change in ownership with relations between Donald and fans seemingly irreparable.
Nothing Has Changed at Sunderland as Stewart Donald Resigns as Chairman
Intense Meeting With Fans Groups
The writing was on the wall that a change could be imminent after Stewart Donald met with fans on Thursday. After an intense meeting, Donald claimed that “the attitude of the fans is putting off investors given the criticism he is coming in for.” Donald also told a fan not in attendance to “shut up.”
After much debate, Donald advised that ‘he will do anything the fans want including resigning as chairman.” It wouldn’t be too long before some got their wish.
On Saturday the official Sunderland website safc.com reported that Stewart Donald had stepped down as chairman of the club.
A statement from Stewart Donald read:
“Holding this position has been a privilege, and not one I have given up lightly. Results and performances on the pitch have simply not been at a level befitting of Sunderland’s history and potential. I fully recognise that has caused immense hurt and, ultimately, the buck for the club starting a third successive season in League One stops with me.
“To give the club the best chance of achieving its goals, I have made the judgement that it is right for me to step back from the chairmanship.”
New Chairman Incoming, Situation Remains The Same
Although Stewart Donald has resigned as chairman, he is still the majority shareholder and still in charge of Sunderland football club. Donald, who was a regular amongst fans at away games and always in attendance at home, became a rarely seen figure this year. He was once very hands-on in his approach and very open in regards to what was happening at the club. Particularly with fans. Too open for some.
The appointment of CEO Jim Rodwell in April allowed Donald to take a step back from the day to day running of the club. Therefore going forward it is business as usual at the club. Something which will disappoint many fans and do little to ease their unrest. In short, nothing has changed.
In the statement from safc.com which confirmed Stewart Donald’s resignation, It was reported that a new chairman would be announced following the next board meeting. This is likely to be next month.
Club Still up for Sale but no Sign of a Buyer
Stewart Donald has insisted the club remains up for sale with an asking price of £37.6 million. However, at present, no potential buyers according to Donald have given proof of funds. Former Sunderland left-back Michael Gray is believed to be heading a consortium interested in buying the Black Cats as are businessmen Mark Campbell and Sammy Yu.
According to Donald, credible buyers are currently reluctant to proceed due to the current climate. This will most likely mean that Stewart Donald will still be in control at the beginning of next season. To fans, this will mean, new season, same situation.