Sunderland are close to being taken over by a group including one of the richest people in the world, according to reports.
Black Cats chairman Stewart Donald has agreed to sell his majority stake just a year after buying the League One club from Ellis Short.
The Times claim US investment firm MSD Partners’ Glen Fuhrman, Rob Platek and John Phelan are part of a consortium looking to complete a takeover of Sunderland.
MSD Partners is a private investment firm that manages the capital of Michael Dell, the founder and chief executive of Dell Technologies.
Dell was named the 25th richest man in the world in Forbes’ most recent rich list. It is understood he will be a passive investor while Fuhrman, Platek and Phelan are inject money in a personal capacity.
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The quartet will undertake the EFL’s fit and proper test before officially buying the club.
Donald and executive director Charlie Methven are expected to remain at the Stadium of Light after the takeover, keeping minor shares but conceding control on club decisions.
Fuhrman, Platek, Phelan and Dell have been keen to buy Sunderland following encouraging talks with Methven.
It has also put a big question mark over the future of manager Jack Ross, who has faced criticism for failing to secure promotion with the league’s biggest transfer budget.
But in an exclusive interview with talkSPORT, Donald has insisted neither he nor Ross are going anywhere.
Speaking to talkSPORT host Jim White after Monday’s play-off defeat, the Black Cats chief said: “It’s absolutely galling to not have delivered for the fans.
“That’s twice we’ve been to Wembley this season and twice we haven’t delivered for the fans, I’m absolutely gutted. This is a killer.
“I will be here [next season]. I might sell some of my investment, but I don’t know yet.
“But what can you do? You’ve just got to go again.
“Financially we don’t need to let the club go, we’re safe enough, but if we really need to get back up to the Premier League we need some investment.
“So I’ll have a think about that over the next few days and have a look at the options in front of us.
“The bottom line is, off the field the club is safe. From where the club was 12 months ago, financially we’re secure so we haven’t got to rush into anything.”
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It appears that needed investment may be on the way, after US investor Mark Campbell was spotted at Wembley alongside Donald.
The Sunderland chief said business with the American is a real possibility, but also revealed he wasn’t the only potential investor at the match.
“I think there are four or five people who have tabled options to us that are here today, he’s one of them,” he said.
“He [Campbell] is a good guy and he might be someone we get involved. He’s one of four or five options we’ve got, but nothing is done.
“I need to sit down and analyse the next few weeks and see what options are going to be best for the club.”
Asked about Ross’ future in the Stadium of Light hotseat, Donald insisted he is the right man to take the club up next season.
“Jack is as gutted as we all are,” he added. “But if you’re asking me is Jack Ross going to be here next season, then yes he is, from my perspective.
“It was a big job on his hands. If you play football manager you’re going to say, ‘it’s the biggest budget, it’s Sunderland, you should go up’. But it isn’t like that and Jack has had a lot to contend with.
“He’s been thrown in at the deep end and we’ve done alright. Next year we definitely want to go up and I think Jack can deliver that for us.”
Listen back to Stewart Donald’s interview with talkSPORT IN FULL above
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Stewart Donald believes Sunderland should not be forced to continue paying Papy Djilobodji and Didier Ndong after accusing the pair of breaching their contracts with the Wearside club.
Ndong, the midfielder, has not returned to Sunderland since pre-season began in July, while defender Djilobodji reported back after being granted extra leave over the summer to try and engineer a transfer.
He was expected to return for training at the beginning of August, but failed to do so, with the former Chelsea player only showing up to join Jack Ross’ side last week.
However, Donald, the club’s owner, has revealed Djilobodji did not stick to the regimen outlined by Sunderland to ensure he stayed fit throughout the summer, meaning he is not at the level required to play competitive football.
Djilobodji failed to show up at training the next day despite being ordered to report for fitness drills, and Donald doubts whether the 29-year-old will be fit to play for the Black Cats before the transfer window reopens in January.
Speaking to Jim White on talkSPORT, Donald said: “The reality is that they [Djilobodji and Ndong] were supposed to report back in training in July, but they made no secret of the fact they wanted to find other clubs.
“We gave Papy Djilobodji permission to not be with us in July, when he said he wouldn’t turn up if we didn’t pay him, so he could find another club. We gave him some guidelines to keep himself fit to make sure he was up with the pre-season standards, but he didn’t turn up in August whilst looking for a move, and with the transfer window shutting neither player managed to find a club.
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“There’s an obligation on you as a player to turn up in a condition in which you can play football, and the reality of it is that I would probably have beaten his stats when he returned. He was unfortunately way off what everyone else in pre-season turned up in, and then his commitment to us from there was, in the very next training session to get himself fit, he didn’t turn up.
“When you’ve not turned up for 72 days and missed eight games of the season, and you come up in a condition which means you’ll probably miss the next 12 games, I think that sort of says you’re not really committed to the contract you’ve got.
“That’s the view we’ve taken, but I don’t think the player obviously agrees with that so he will argue his case.
“I’m not entirely sure what that case is though.”
Donald believes the players’ refusal to honour the obligations written in their contracts means that they are in breach of a legal document – which means Sunderland should not have to continue paying them a wage.
He continued: “I think for them to expect us to pay them, when they’ve said they don’t want to be here, when they’re in breach of contract, when they don’t want to turn up…
“But then they come back, but they don’t come back in a condition in which they can play football, buy say ‘you can pay us’.
“If there’s a rinky-dink somewhere in the law that says we’re obliged to pay them, I don’t think that should be the case. Any right-minded human being would say they have continually breached their contracts and Sunderland should not be paying for that.”
While Donald is certain enough has been done by Djilobodji and Ndong to dock the duo’s pay, the Sunderland owner remains unclear on the question of whether they have breached their contracts.
“I’m certain we are allowed to fine them for their behaviour, but the question is whether they have done enough to be in breach of their contracts to terminate their contracts and pursue them for wilfully devaluing themselves. That is the question.
“But the bottom line is, Didier Ndong has shown no interest in returning to the football club whatsoever – we don’t even know where he is.
“Papy has returned but in his last conversation said ‘you’ll never see me in Sunderland again’.
“So I don’t think either of the two players wants to be here anyway.
“The question is, of course, what can they get out the football club? It’s all very well saying they don’t want to be here, but I’m sure the legal advice will say we’ve done something wrong and the players would return etc…
“We will see where that goes.
“But our view of it is we have done nothing wrong; we haven’t asked them not to turn up, we haven’t asked them to be unfit, we’ve honoured their contracts to point at which they are not breaching it, and to the point they’ve breached it we’ve said ‘enough is enough’.
“Just because they now can’t move, we don’t think they behaved well enough for us to turn around and say ‘all right, come back and we’ll pay you’. Never mind play them, because neither of them are in condition to play.”
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