ALEX NEIL claims the developments with Sunderland’s ownership this summer have left the club in a much better state as it prepares for a return to the Championship.
Kyril Louis-Dreyfus became a majority shareholder when he increased his stake in the Black Cats to 51 per cent in June, with his fellow director, Juan Sartori, increasing his own shareholding to 30 per cent.
Together, the co-owners now boast an 81 per cent stake, with former chairman Stewart Donald retaining just 19 per cent of the club. Former director Charlie Methven no longer has any involvement with the Black Cats.
Prior to the reorganisation, Louis-Dreyfus remained reliant on Donald in particular when it came to investing in the club, but that is not longer the case, something Neil feels has led to much greater clarity around Sunderland’s long-term ambitions.
“I think it was important for the club,” said the Black Cats head coach. “I also think it was important for the supporters because we needed a bit of clarity in terms of where the club was going and how it was going to look.
“I think we’re in a much better position now than we were before the changes took place. I think it was important. There’s a clarity now about where we are and what we’re looking to do.”
While Donald retains a minority stake, he has pledged to be a silent shareholder, and he is not expected to attend any games at the Stadium of Light.
Some supporters would rather he was not involved at all, but Neil does not regard his retention of a 19 per cent stake as a problem.
Indeed, while concerns were expressed about the level of Donald and Methven’s involvement last season, Neil insists he had no dealings with the duo, who became unpopular figures amongst the Sunderland fanbase as the details of their buyout of former owner, Ellis Short, became clear .
“My dealings, in the main, are with Kristjaan (Speakman), although obviously I also speak to Kyril from time to time,” he said. “I’ve had no dealings with anyone else though.
“I’ve never even met the other owners, or spoken to them. So, from that sense, I think people probably thought those people were involved more than they actually were or still are. I’ve certainly never seen them. That’s how much impact or influence they’ve had on anything I’ve done.”