Insurance tycoon and former owner of non-league Eastleigh Stewart Donald has taken control of Sunderland after effectively completing a £40m buyout of American businessman Ellis Short.
Donald said the club, which has been relegated from the Premier League to English football’s third tier in successive seasons, was now free of debt after previous owner Ellis Short agreed to write off more than £100m.
The deal, first announced last month, is due to completed this week following ratification from the English Football League.
“We’ve given Ellis £40m, so that’s the deal, and in return Ellis has tidied up his debt and that has now gone from the football club,” said multi-millionaire Donald, 47.
“Ellis was very clear he didn’t want the debt, but we didn’t want the debt either so we refused that. The reality is Sunderland is debt-free which, for the fans, is good news.”
Donald invested more than £7m into Eastleigh over six years, helping them rise to the fifth tier and redeveloping their stadium, but has given up his ownership of the Hampshire outfit as a condition of his Sunderland takeover.
The owner of Oxfordshire-based brokers Bridle Insurance had initially been set to lead an international consortium of investors in buying out Texan Short but has instead taken over personally, citing a desire to avoid delays that could affect the club’s summer business.
He was speaking at Monday’s media conference alongside public relations guru Charlie Methven, who is expected to be named on the new board.
Donald said he hoped to appoint a new manager within seven days, following the departure of former Wales boss Chris Coleman in April, and promised transfer funds to revive the ailing club’s fortunes.
“The budget for Sunderland is going to be pretty hefty, and much more than of the teams that were promoted last season,” he added.
“There will be transfer fees involved, and that’s going to be a good budget for Sunderland, one that a few Championship clubs would like.”