Former chairman’s message to Stewart Donald ahead of Sunderland takeover

Sir Bob Murray. Picture by Frank Reid
Sir Bob Murray. Picture by Frank Reid

Sir Bob Murray says prospective new Sunderland owner Stewart Donald has a ‘big responsibility’ in taking on the club.

Murray, who was chairman of the Black Cats for 20 years, warned Donald that he is buying a ‘special, unique’ club and that it will have an impact on many people’s lives in the North East.

Murray (pictured) sold Sunderland to the Niall Quinn-led Drumaville consortium in 2006, with Ellis Short becoming majority shareholder in 2008 and full owner the following year.

After more than nine years in charge, Short announced this month that he is selling the club to a consortium fronted by Donald, who is waiting on Football League ratification before the takeover can be completed.

Sir Bob was asked if he thought Donald was the right person to take over the club from Ellis Short.

He said: “I think the EFL will decide that first.

“It is a big responsibility because it affects so many people’s lives.

“I gave the club away to Niall Quinn for next to nothing. A good friend of mine sold West Brom last year for £180million. I got £5.7million – and I’d put a lot more than that in.

“It is a special club, a very special club ... unique, the best, the best supporters. It’s not within my giving, I don’t get to choose who’s going to be the next owner.”

Murray was speaking at The Beacon of Light, the £19million community hub building in the shadow of the Stadium of Light which will be open to the public later this year.

The Beacon is the latest venture for Murray, who was responsible for developing Sunderland’s Academy of Light training ground into one of the best in the country, and also building the Stadium of Light so that the football club could leave Roker Park.

And he believes that one day, with the right owners and success on the pitch, the stadium WILL be increased to a 66,000 capacity.

He added: “I built the Academy of Light because I wanted those players to have the best stage for their performance.

“Every manager that comes here praises the Academy of Light. Sadly, the public don’t see it.

“I wanted the stadium to be the best and I’m pleased the stadium can be taken on to 66,000 one day, which somebody will do.

“There’s no doubt about that and that’s very easy to do.”