Subject to EFL sanctioning, Stewart Donald is here to stay and has no plans to make a quick quid on Sunderland should things start well.
We wouldn’t be the first distressed club to be bought, patched up and sold on for a profit in football history. Milan Mandaric made a career of it. The Drumaville consortium did it with us. It can work. But then after that works the club can be sold on to the likes of Alexandre Gaydamak or Ellis Short. Then it doesn’t work. Let me be clear that Short is a far more reputable chap than Gaydamak but you get my point.
WAW understands that Donald has no intentions of selling Sunderland should he transform the fortunes of our glorious football establishment. Much in keeping with what many have said about the Witney-based businessman, Donald is a football man in every sense of the word and wants to lead the club into a new chapter of success.
How is that going to happen I hear you wail?
Sunderland has one of the top five youth academies in the country, a key selling point to Donald and sources close to our would-be owner told us of his vision to make the Academy of Light the most successful in the country. That is not expected to happen through overhaul of the staff or organisation within the academy, more in the way youth players are recruited and the opportunities presented to them.
Having already produced top English talent in Jordans Henderson and Pickford, there is every reason to believe that this is possible.
Now that we’re in League One and aren’t managed by mercenaries like David Moyes – we can offer youth academy products the opportunity to develop with first team football. That is something the likes of Manchester City can’t do, which would be an enticing offer for players in category two or three academies.
This trend has already started before Donald’s arrival with Ethan Robson, Joel Asoro, Josh Maja, George Honeyman and Lynden Gooch all having featured prominently throughout this torrid campaign – whilst the likes of Luke Molyneux, Bali Mumba, Elliott Embleton and Denver Hume can expect to see more game time as they progress their Sunderland careers over the coming years.
Donald himself runs business with an attitude that no task is below him. He has been known to help out at the ticket office of Eastleigh among other jobs that most club owners would consider too menial for them.
To speak of due diligence being done to Sunderland fans has almost lost it's meaning after recent seasons. However, Donald and the consortium behind him already know a lot of the history of the football club, the birth of the academy and of the people and history of Sunderland itself - seemingly more so than the previous regime. All of that helped to build the strategy set that so heavily requires a change in culture.
It is that attitude which Donald wants to instil in the club from top to bottom to re-engage with a dormant fan base yearning for a reason to return to the Stadium of Light. To finally rid the club of the ‘rotten’ culture so synonymous that players often didn’t even know they were taking the mick.
Nobody is bigger than the club. We know that but – as we are all too aware – several players we’ve recruited don’t seem to understand that. The ethos will be that working hard will reap rewards, whilst anything less will face consequences.
So we have an academy focus, an overhaul of the mentality at the club – what next? Oh yes…
Sunderland will have the biggest budget in League One next season to strengthen a squad that is expected to thin considerably during the summer. Senior players, willingly or otherwise, are expected to be shown the door in their droves to make way for the new era at Sunderland. Hardworking players, who can thrive in League One, on reasonable wages will replace them.
This summer’s transfer kitty will go a long way in League One with the right kind of players arriving at the right price. There is every chance we could see a plethora of new faces, all of whom will be recruited to reinforce the new culture at the club and will muck in as we try to drag ourselves back into the Championship.
Whilst that all sounds enticing enough, we should all become accustomed to a ‘new’ way of spending at Sunderland. It is a strange concept which doesn’t include shovelling hundreds of millions into a black hole and definitely does not include the recruitment of Jack Rodwells.
It’s not about Bain-esque corner-cutting cost-cutting either. This is about using our unique situation to rebuild a football club and football culture we can be proud of from top to bottom. To set us up for long periods of stability (there’s that word again) and ensure wherever possible that the mistakes of the last decade are not made again.
With all of that, the administration of the club is expected to see considerable changes. Duh.
To summarise, we have money, we have a plan and we have a cracking youth set up. We are preparing for an immediate bounce back to the Championship. Should we get there, money will be available back in the Championship too.
We'll have a couple more tasty gems for you over the next day or two so hang around!