American owner Short writes off Sunderland debt, sells club

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Turn and face the strain, ch-ch-changes.

Relegated in consecutive seasons, troubled club Sunderland announced the departure of manager Chris Coleman on Sunday.

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Minutes later, it announced a change in ownership, hopefully solving a club crisis.

Embattled American owner Ellis Short is leaving the Northeast England club now headed to League One on the heels of a 20th place finish in the Football League Championship.

Short has sold the team to Stewart Donald, and says he has paid off the debts of the club while rejecting higher paying offers in favor of the best one for the direction of Sunderland.

For all the rough times and damage done to the club, those are class gestures. Here is Short’s statement, via the Sunderland site:

“It is no secret that I have been trying to sell Sunderland, but I have waited until the right group came along that have the experience, finances and plan to take this great club back to where it deserves to be.

“Overall, my chairmanship has not gone the way I would have wished; the many high points of a decade in the Premier League have been overshadowed by the low points of the last two terrible seasons. I was therefore determined to ensure that I leave Sunderland in the best possible hands and in the best possible state to turn the corner. To achieve this, higher offers from less qualified buyers were rejected, and I have paid off all debts owed by the club to leave it financially strong and debt free for the first time since years before I owned it.”

“Assuming that Stewart and his group win EFL approval, it only remains for me to wish them, and all associated with the club, the very best for the future. I will be a Sunderland fan for life, and hope to return as a fan to watch them climb back to where they belong.”

Donald will be the new owner, once approved by the English Football League, and will relinquish control of the current club he owns: Eastleigh FC. The Chronicle says he also has a stake in Oxford United of League One.

Donald has experience with righting a debt-ridden ship, having done the trick at Eastleigh. He hopes that serves him well:

“Eastleigh and Oxford are different cases to each other and, of course, smaller than Sunderland. The similarity, though, is that there is also a lot that needs to be addressed here, and it needs to be addressed with realism, focus and dedication. For a club with one of the best fanbases, stadium and academies in the UK to find itself in League One is unacceptable.

“We have a carefully thought-through plan to restructure the club, make it sustainable and, with the help of the fans, to restore its sense of pride and re-connect it with the local community. In short, we are rolling our sleeves up to do what needs to be done to ready this club to start competing again.”

Good luck to Sunderland. It’s been a brutal run, as it was just two years ago fans were flying banners over Newcastle’s stadium when the rivals were relegated.