Sunderland owner Stewart Donald looking to sell League One club
Last Updated: 07/01/20 9:58am
Sunderland have confirmed owner Stewart Donald is actively trying to sell the League One club.
A club statement released on Tuesday claimed that the Sunderland board has "no option but to sell" following fan protests against the club's ownership.
"Coordinated, 'no turning back' campaigns of this kind against owners are highly unusual at any club - particularly after 18 months," read the statement.
"Given these circumstances, and Stewart Donald's sincere commitment on his arrival at Sunderland AFC that 'I won't outstay my welcome', the Board feels that it has no option but to sell the club.
"That process has now commenced. Owing to confidentiality agreements, there will be no further updates until a preferred bidder is identified."
Donald bought Sunderland from Ellis Short in May 2018 after consecutive relegations had taken the club from the Premier League into the third tier.
However, his hopes of an immediate return to the Championship last season were dashed last season after a 2-1 defeat to Charlton in the League One Play-Off Final.
The Black Cats are currently ninth in League One and fan groups called for the club to be sold following the goalless draw with Bolton on Boxing Day.
Sunderland say Donald met with supporters earlier in December and had promised to "invest significantly" in January, but he has since decided to sell the club after being urged to go by fans.
"Given the scale of the task on arriving at the club and the amount of hard work put in over the last 18 months, the current owners would have preferred more time to complete the job and fully implement the vision originally laid out," the club statement added.
"However, recent events indicate that is not what some fans wish for - and, as football supporters themselves, the Board understands that long-term success cannot be achieved by a disunited club."
Donald added: "We would like to place on record our thanks for the wonderful support we have received from SAFC's phenomenal supporters.
"We would also like to reassure those loyal fans that we are placing sufficient funds in the club to support the manager as he seeks to improve the first team in the next few weeks.
"Finally, I just ask that fans now unite to support the players and the coaching staff."