Sunderland AFC and me: how I’ve been brought back from the brink

Monsieur Salut writes: I often envy the lifestyles of Pete Sixsmith and Malcolm Dawson, enjoying the North East without any longer the need to do much work – though both, in their own ways, remain active – and free to pop along to any match they choose. Then I read their accounts of afternoons or evenings wasted watching SAFC and, remembering too many similar experiences from my own life, start to feel a lot less envious.

Sunderland games have not always been Malcolm’s first choice in recent times. But he has stuck by the team through thin and thinner and is now encouraged by the new regime. He describes his return from the brink quite magnificently. Please read on …

Read moreSunderland AFC and me: how I’ve been brought back from the brink

In conversation with Charlie Methven: (4) what is the least Sunderland should expect?

Can we keep the faith?

It is time to conclude our series based on (mainly) electronic conversations between Salut! Sunderland writers and Charlie Methven, executive director of the club and a minority shareholder.

We thank Charlie for his time and full, diligent responses. Not every Sunderland supporter is yet convinced, either that the takeover from Ellis Short leaves Stewart Donald, Charlie and their team in a strong financial position or that bargain acquisitions from Scotland will win us League One.

We will see. For now, the right noises are being made and the level of communication between club and fans is healthier than in the past, possibly healthier than at any time in the history of Sunderland AFC.

Read moreIn conversation with Charlie Methven: (4) what is the least Sunderland should expect?

In conversation with Charlie Methven: (3) ‘missing out on promotion would be a failure’

 

Our question-and-answer discussions with Sunderland’s executive director, Charlie Methven, continues with a series of detailed points put to him by Salut! Sunderland‘s deputy editor, Malcolm Dawson. I called Malcolm’s efforts speeches followed by questions, Charlie thought “lectures” the more appropriate description while appreciating the depth of his thinking.

And each ends with a highly pertinent question. Let the pair of them speak for themselves (and see the series in full at this link). Many thanks to all the readers who came here yesterday to see what Charlie had to say; we wish only that a few more had also taken the trouble to put their own views across or respond to
his comments …

Read moreIn conversation with Charlie Methven: (3) ‘missing out on promotion would be a failure’

In conversation with Charlie Methven: (1) ‘let’s all roll up our sleeves’

Our leaders, Charlie Methven (l) and the chairman, Stewart Donald

Salut! Sunderland was asking the questions. But Charlie Methven, Stewart Donald’s executive director and minority shareholder in the post-Ellis Short SAFC, had one for us: ‘How are we doing so far?’

Monsieur Salut, who worked with Charlie and has been delighted to renew an amicable acquaintance, gave the truthful response. On balance, a fine and encouraging start …

    • appointing a manager who seems the right fit for the club, a man with the ability and character to bring the best out of a revamped squad
    • managing to see the back of Jack Rodwell with a payoff that represents a fraction of what he would have cost the club had he seen out his contract
    • making players and one key official feel Sunderland was the place they wanted to be – even if it meant taking a pay cut
    • engaging with supporters and treating fanzines as important, not because their editors need or deserve to have their egos massaged but because they represent so many thousands of the club’s loyal followers
    • working their socks off to get rid of people who don’t want to play for the club but have absurdly generous and undeserved contractual rights that somehow have to be resolved
    • stimulating a genuinely optimistic wave of support, with 21,000+ season tickets sold, 23,000 the new target and 1,000 fans already met by Charlie

Read moreIn conversation with Charlie Methven: (1) ‘let’s all roll up our sleeves’

Happy birthday, Charlie Methven and (belatedly) Jack Ross: but the presents should be ours

Our leaders

Monsieur Salut writes: I know it is Charlie Methven’s birthday today because we are Facebook friends, though he doesn’t seem to have been active there for a while. Jack Ross’s birthday had passed me by until I saw Paul Summerside’s comment (also at Facebook).

Hearty best wishes to both from Salut! Sunderland.

We won’t be offering presents just yet. The gifts are still owed the other way – to the 20,000+ who have bought season tickets to watch third division football and to the wider SAFC-supporting family.

That said, the work in progress that is rebuilding Sunderland AFC is showing early signs that give encouragement.

As Pete Sixsmith wrote in his exemplary piece on the departures of John O’Shea, Robbie Stockdale and Adrian Tucker, it is sad to lose people who have done their best for the club. But new managers must be allowed room for manoeuvre and that always involves change.

Charlie, with his minority stake (six per cent, I am told) but obviously significant influence, and the owner, Stewart Donald, have begun the promised process of cutting out waste. I was told before it started that it would be a “root and branch” exercise and it certainly looks like developing that way.

That means decent people lose their jobs, too, but we have to face the fact that for now, we are a third-tier and not Premier League club and the revival has to start on that basis.

Also for now, I will say no more than offer my former colleague Charlie (and, a few days late, Jack) many happy returns …

Sunderland’s new order: Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and Benjamin the Donkey

Our leaders

Pete Sixsmith is on leave. In his place, Benjamin the Donkey interprets his thoughts … unless it’s Sixer in disguise

As is well known around the area, we donkeys are noted for our cynicism and unwillingness to believe that, to quote the song, “Things Can Only Get Better”.

The general consensus amongst we members of the Equus Asinus family is that things rarely do get better and more often end up a damn sight worse.

Read moreSunderland’s new order: Stewart Donald, Charlie Methven and Benjamin the Donkey

SAFC takeover: done and dusted with a £40m price tag and, soon, a new manager

Keeping the faith

Monsieur Salut couldn’t be in Sunderland today but pieces together the bits he has gleaned about the confirmed purchase of SAFC …

 

Stewart Donald confirmed today that his takeover of Sunderland AFC from Ellis Short had been completed. The club is now debt-free after Short accepted a £40m purchase price to be paid over two years.

Donald told a news conference at the Stadium of Light that the takeover was concluded on Sunday night after being approved by the EFL on Friday.

He said it was his hope to have a new manager appointed in a week or less to give him as much of the summer as possible for rebuilding.

Read moreSAFC takeover: done and dusted with a £40m price tag and, soon, a new manager

Red socks, pinstripes, fighting the bosses. Who is the Charlie Methven in SAFC takeover?

Charlie Methven


In the continuing saga of Stewart Donald’s attempt to buy Sunderland AFC,
Monsieur Salut has a minor interest to declare.

Many of you will have seen references to one Charlie Methven, a public relations wizard and a director of Madrox, the company created by Stewart to take over SAFC and – who knows? – make it great again.

He and Monsieur Salut are former colleagues and also got on well when working for the same newspaper.

Matt drew a cartoon for Charlie when he, too, left the Telegraph a year or two before M Salut

Read moreRed socks, pinstripes, fighting the bosses. Who is the Charlie Methven in SAFC takeover?