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True Sunderland ownership picture emerges as ‘Netflix villain’ Charlie Methven returns

The Black Cats are in their fourth straight season in the third tier of English football and recently appointed Alex Neil in the hope that he can end that long, unwanted stay

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‘Sunderland til I Die’ official Netflix trailer

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Sunderland have been plunged into fresh chaos after the revelation that former owner Stewart Donald is still a prominent stakeholder in the club.

The Black Cats ‘ fanbase have reacted negatively after the news was confirmed by current owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.

The Swiss-French billionaire completed his takeover of the League One club a year ago and it was confirmed at the time that the Madrox group consisting of Donald, Juan Sartori and Charlie Methven retained what was believed to be a minority shareholding.

Now, after months of unanswered questions and radio silence, Louis-Dreyfus has revealed he owns just 41 per cent of the Wearside club.

Donald, who bought Sunderland back in 2018 from previous maligned owner Ellis Short, retains a 34 per cent stake, Sartori 20 per cent and Methven five per cent – a cumulative total that would exceed the stake Louis-Dreyfus holds.

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Will Sunderland finally end their League One stay this season? Let us know in the comments

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus completed his takeover of Sunderland back in February 2021

In a letter written to a Sunderland fans’ group, 25-year-old Louis-Dreyfus wrote: “As previously stated, I have executive control of the running of the football club — something that was a fundamental requirement upon the purchase of my shares — and the executive management team inclusive of Steve Davison and Kristjaan Speakman report directly to me on a day-to-day basis.

“All major strategic decisions relating to the running of the club continue to be taken by the board of directors, compromising of myself, Maurice Louis-Dreyfus, David Jones, Steve Davison, Igor Levin, Patrick Treuer, Juan Sartori and Simon Vumbaca.”

Whilst Donald rarely watches Sunderland games nowadays, Methven has become a regular presence in recent weeks at away games – much to the chagrin of the club’s fans.

Charlie Methven (left) and Stewart Donald remain prominent stakeholders in Sunderland

Methven became a figure of ridicule among the Black Cats’ support for his portrayal in the popular Netflix series ‘Sunderland ‘Til I Die’.

Methven, who left as a director in 2019, was recently pictured sitting with Louis-Dreyfus in the directors’ box away at Cheltenham, a game the Black Cats lost.

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He was also in attendance for the 1-1 draw at AFC Wimbledon – the first game in charge for new manager Alex Neil.

Independent fan group Red and White Army said of his recent appearances: “The club needs to realise that Methven attending away games and sitting with club employees/board members is a slap in the face for many fans.

“Just before he had to resign from any official role, he was condescending, patronising and ignorant towards Sunderland supporters.”

Methven has previously claimed that the reason he left the club was “personal”.

After this week’s revelation, both Donald and Methven spoke to the Athletic.

A spokesperson for Donald said: “Stewart’s only active involvement has been covering his pro-rata funding commitment.

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“He has made it clear throughout that he is happy to sell the remainder of his shares internally to the other shareholders at the same level he has already accepted initially.”

Sunderland fans are experiencing a fourth successive season in the third tier of English football

As for Methven, he said: “Like Stewart, I would be very happy to sell my shares. But, in the meantime, I will continue to provide my share of the financing of the club.”

On the pitch, Neil knows he needs to turn around Sunderland’s fortunes – and fast. Despite being fourth in League One, they have won just one of the last eight.

The former Norwich and Preston boss will be under no illusions that his remit is to ensure the Stadium of Light does not witness a fifth consecutive season of League One football next term.

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