On 22nd October the Red and White Army (RAWA) held an open meeting. This was part of our consultation with supporters to collate the most common questions that fans wanted the group to ask at a meeting with SAFC scheduled for 12th November.
At the open meeting members asked that RAWA share these questions should the meeting on 12th November not go ahead. Below is a list of questions that were the main thrust of what you the fans told us to ask. It is not an exhaustive list and had the meeting gone ahead RAWA did have follow-up and tangential questions prepared. That said these were the reoccurring questions that we gathered from the fanbase.
· Where are we at with regards to takeover?
· What are the timelines looking like for takeover?
· If a takeover goes through, who will be responsible for day-to-day running of the club, for example, are existing members of the club hierarchy likely to stay on in some positions (board members etc)?
· Can we rule out an approach by William Storey and put that on the record?
· A lot of members have commented that the owner has removed himself from the 'firing line' by stepping down as Chair, is he just biding time and hoping to ride the season out with promotion as an option?
· If no takeover is concluded, is Mr Donald still looking to leave and will his asking price reflect this?
· In July, RAWA were asked by the Club for some breathing space while a takeover was to be concluded, what can the Club put on record to reassure concerned supporters about the direction of the Club at present?
· If, like previous takeover attempts, this one does not materialise, what plans are in place for the future of the Club?
· Are there any updates with regards to filling key positions in the Club, Chairperson, Academy Manager, recruitment team etc?
· In the absence of an academy manager, who is running the academy?
· What measures have been put in place for the club to retain academy talent and what pathways have been put in place for player development to the first team?
· If a takeover is not forthcoming, what are the plans for the academy?
· During the current lockdown, are all of the academy teams back training?
· Given the departure of the previous recruitment team, who is now responsible for transfers, given what is considered by fans to be another poor transfer window?
· If the Club are promoted this season, what measures are to be put in place to ensure that the team is able to compete in the league above?
· As the Club is still losing traditional match day revenues, what is the current financial situation at the football club?
· Some members have expressed concerns about the financial constraints that we're working under given Covid19, as well as servicing the FPP loan, is this manageable in the current climate?
· At a meeting held over the summer, the owner noted that monies would be returned from Madrox to the Club 'as and when needed'. How much of this balance is outstanding?
· How much of the FPP loan has been used to date and does this form part of the funds that have been repaid by Madrox for the use of the parachute payments in the purchase of the Club?
· Even though the first team have had a reasonable start to the season with regards to number of points accrued, the breakdown in trust and the relationship with the Club has been mentioned by members, with some of them calling on RAWA to look at action involving 'not a penny more' to be spent at the Club under the existing owners. What would the club say to address the concerns of those members?
· With regards to refunds for season ticket holders who have not been able to attend games this season, will the club be taking a proactive approach to assisting fans with refunds?
· What is the process for supporters to obtain a refund?
· Do the club have any plans to re-open the club shop soon (where allowed within national and local restriction guidance)?
· Are there any plans to stream ladies matches once playing again?
· Is there any progress on a return to Hetton/Hebburn for the ladies?
· Are the club still committed to supporting the ladies' application to join the WSL when necessary?
Earlier this week we tweeted our response to the Club’s postponement of the meeting.
The Red and White Army are disappointed that the Club have cancelled Thursday's Structured Dialogue meeting. We have a range of questions and topics to cover following consultation with our members and the wider supporter base. We know that fellow supporter groups have also requested a range of discussion points.
We note that the reason for the cancellation is due to SAFC being in advanced talks about a potential takeover with an unnamed party. We understand that this would make some of the proposed agenda items difficult to discuss, hence the postponement.
The apparent progress of a sale will be welcome news to the majority of Sunderland supporters. Earlier this year RAWA surveyed fans on their attitudes to the current ownership, with 90% of supporters stating they were unhappy and they should sell to a reputable buyer.
We are acutely aware that there will be a large number of fans who may greet this latest news with a dose of cynicism, citing that there has been a potential sale in one form or another, since Spring of 2019. RAWA are not privy to any further information regarding a potential sale and so we will watch with great interest and eagerness for imminent news of a positive conclusion.
Despite a reasonable start to the season in terms of results in League One, many fans continue to be disillusioned and frustrated at the direction of SAFC, whilst taking into account the huge disruption in the game caused by Covid19. It is widely accepted there has been a breakdown of trust between the ownership and the fan base for a variety of reasons, and we sincerely hope matters are about to finally reach a positive conclusion. In July the club board asked for “breathing space” – that was four months ago and the patience of a lot of fans is wearing thin. Many of our members are already pushing for supporters to act and once again display their feelings about how the club is being run. Anything other than a swift and positive resolution in a change of ownership will only serve to raise the temperature further.