August 23 – English tier three club Sunderland, who only three seasons ago were in the Premier League, look set to have new American majority owners via an investment group likely to include computer billionaire Michael Dell.
MSD Capital, led by John Phelan, Glenn Fuhrman and Rob Platek, are reported to be close to securing the club ownership from Stewart Donald who acquired the club a year ago.
Donald, whose business background is in insurance and whose football ownership background was with National League club Eastleigh, bought Sunderland in May 2018 for £40 million from American Ellis Short, who had owned the club for 10 years.
In selling the club to Donald, Short wrote off £100 million of debt. Donald has since sold 20% of the club to Uruguyan businessman Juan Sartori.
Despite having dropped to League One, the club’s profile has remained high with a Netflix documentary chronicling its fall from Premier League glory.
Donald has been seeking new investors in Sunderland who missed out on a return to the Championship last season, losing 2-1 in the play-offs to Charlton Athletic.
The MSD Capital group investors are said to be making their investment as individuals and Dell would be a minority shareholder in their consortium.
Donald and co-owner Charlie Methven are expected to maintain a stake in the club and continue their involvement in its running.
Donald has made no secret of the fact that to return Sunderland to the Premier League will require new money into the business.
Methven said in the club’s matchday programme last weekend that the club’s wage bill had now been reduced from £40 million (a legacy of its Premier League status) to £12.5 million and was making operational losses of £3 million a year – at one point the club was losing £80,000 a week.
After four games of the new season Sunderland are in joint third place with four other teams, two points behind leaders Blackpool, themselves a refugee from former Premier League status and ownership uncertainty.
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