The English businessman bought Sunderland in May 2018. However, he is looking to sell to the right buyer as soon as possible. He placed Sunderland up for sale in December 2019 following fan protests over his tenure.
Sunderland Chairman Stewart Donald Resigns
A Failed Tenure
When Stewart Donald bought Sunderland, a fresh start was declared. After two successive relegations, Sunderland was in tatters. Donald and his business partner Charlie Methven made it their mission to bring the club back into the community.
Part of this was inviting the fans to help to change the seats at the Stadium of Light. Switching the faded seats to a fresh red set metaphorically summed up the mood around the club.
Donald appointed Jack Ross manager and he built a new squad. However, the first season in League One ended in failure after losing to Charlton in the Play-Off final.
The summer of 2019 saw Donald almost sell the club twice. First to American businessman Mark Campbell, and secondly to a group of investors linked with billionaire Michael Dell.
Some fans accused Donald of trying to sell the club for a profit rather than its well-being. The asking price of the club, £37.5 million, drove buyers away.
Meanwhile, the club’s on the pitch welfare suffered. Jack Ross was sacked in October and replaced by Phil Parkinson. A poor run between then and Boxing Day saw Sunderland slip to 15th in League One and protests against the ownership begun.
Failure to reach the play-offs twinned with a failing academy sparked anger from the club’s fanbase. In recent weeks, Sunderland’s top academy talents including Bali Mumba, Logan Pye and Joe Hugill have all either left or are soon to be departing club. The Under-18 and Under-23 sides did not win a game in the entirety of the last 12 months.
A Welcome Resignation
The failure of Stewart Donald’s reign is clear for all to see. But what did the most damage is the fragmenting relationship with the club’s fans. On Thursday afternoon, Donald met with the club’s fan groups. In the meeting, he insinuated that the reason he could not sell the club was the fault of the fans. Despite his steep asking price, Donald fragmented his relationship with the fans to an irretrievable position. This led to the announcement today.
In a club statement, Donald addressed the reasons for resigning.
“To give the club the best chance of achieving its goals,” he said, “I have made the judgement that it is right for me to step back from the chairmanship.”
“My remaining responsibility is to ensure that the club has the requisite financial backing to achieve its primary objective of promotion, and I can assure supporters that the club will continue to have the highest playing budget in this division.”
“Otherwise, my intention remains to sell SAFC to a suitable new owner, and I remain personally committed to that goal.”
Embed from Getty Images