An open letter to ‘our’ MPs

As your constituent, I always encourage you to be vocal when supporting our community.

I find it somewhat surprising, however, that the current political climate does not dictate that your more public addresses are saved for the greater pressing concerns that you surely have, rather than using them to demand answers as to why a financially comfortable Premier League club, owned by a billionaire, isn’t being purchased by other billionaires.

If your angle is that of North East investment, I am curious to why this is such a concern when our own constituency would unlikely benefit from this alleged investment, and also when the ‘suffering’ city in question takes up the lion’s share of investment away from the rest of the region already. This fact in itself is a bigger concern to our own economy.

If your concern is indeed that of how your local professional football teams are being ran, there is clearly a more concerning case that should have your attention…

While I understand the disappointment and frustration of NUFC fans, it is currently the case that my own club is being ran into the ground and scant little attention is being paid to it.

As has been detailed in numerous national newspaper stories, and since admitted by the owners themselves, the current owners of Sunderland AFC bought our club by leveraging the club’s own money, and have subsequently written off the obligation to pay it back.

We are repeatedly told the money will be paid back, but have been given no hint or evidence of a timescale for doing so existing. At the same time, the current majority shareholder, Stewart Donald, continues to try to sell the club, but only at a price which would currently net him an obscene personal profit. All the while we have witnessed mass redundancies, the selling of most if not all of the club’s youth prospects for short-term cash flow purposes and, in general, huge decline in a once proud club.

With that in mind, I request that you send another public letter, this one being addressed to the shareholders of Sunderland AFC and, primarily, Mr Stewart Donald. I have outlined a number of questions I and, I suspect, many other Sunderland fans want answers to below:

Sunderland fans have repeatedly been told money borrowed from the club by its owners to buy it will be repaid, despite that obligation having now been written off. Fans deserve to know when that money will be repaid, especially given they have been asked to buy season tickets to help fund the club, despite the fact the money still ‘owed’ to it by its owners far outweighs any sums such ticket sales would generate. Can we be told of a timescale for the return of the club’s funds?

During their time in charge, the current owners have sold off huge numbers of the club’s youth prospects, something which fans feel will hamper the club for years to come. The club receives compensation in such sales. That money does not appear to have been re-invested in the academy programme, so where has it gone? Has it simply been used on funding day-to-day operations at the same time the club’s owners owed the club a huge sum of money?

Recent news reports claim the club’s owners have entered an ‘exclusivity’ period with potential buyers of the club – is this correct? If so, who are the potential buyers? Fans are concerned that the current EFL Owners and Directors Test is not sufficiently prohibitive to ‘bad’ owners, and have a right to know who will potentially assume control of their club.

During one of the most pressing times for the country since the Second World War, we would never wish to monopolise your time with such trivial matters. However, it would be remiss of myself if I did not draw attention to the situation given developments elsewhere suggest it now appears to be an appropriate time to do so.

Kind Regards,

Sunderland Fan