Sunderland chief on what's next for Kyril Louis-Dreyfus and Madrox's shareholding

Sunderland's Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison has said that he is hopeful that Kyril Louis-Dreyfus can reach an agreement to purchase Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven's shares in the club, after the pair publicly declared their willingness to sell.
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There was widespread anger on Wearside this week when it was finally revealed that Louis-Dreyfus owned a 41% stake in the club, with the Madrox consortium holding the rest.

That revelation followed concern over Methven's regular appearances in the director's box at away games, as well as a fraught fortnight at the club both on and off the pitch.

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Louis-Dreyfus is thought to have held a desire for a greater shareholding right through the process of his arrival, and it is an ambition that he retains.

The Sunderland Chairman did not attend the supporter collective meeting on Wednesday night as he is not currently in the UK, but he has agreed to meet with fans next week as he bids to build trust in his leadership.

Davison was one of a number of club officials who did attend the meeting, the minutes of which will be released into the public domain.

Afterwards, Davison said that he was hopeful progress can now be made with regards to Louis-Dreyfus' shareholding in the club.

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"I understand that a statement was made on Wednesday morning from Stewart [Donald] and Charlie [Methven] that they are willing to sell their shares in the football club," Davison said.

Sunderland's Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison (front left) and Kyril Louis-DreyfusSunderland's Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison (front left) and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus
Sunderland's Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison (front left) and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus

"Clearly, for any transaction to happen you need to have a willing seller and also a willing buyer.

"So it appears that we have willing sellers in terms of what they have said.

"We believe that Kyril is interested in purchasing more shares in the football club moving forward, so you would hope that they could reach some conclusion around the sale of those shares to Kyril."

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Davison was also asked to clarify how Louis-Dreyfus could have full control of the football club, despite the Madrox consortium owning a majority of the shares.

"Kyril has 41% of the shares but he has full control of the club, is responsible and accountable for all of the decisions that get made," Davison said.

"He works closely with the board and the executive team to make those decisions and implement them.

"When he bought the club, it was on the basis that he would take full control, and that he would make all the decisions at the football club.

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"If that had not been the case, he would not have proceeded with the deal.

"That control is documented as part of a shareholder agreement which defines how the club is run, and this is common practice in many organisations.

"Practically it means that Kyril makes all the decisions, in conjunction with the board and the executive team.

"We have operated in that way since Kyril took control."

Donald and Methven have said that they continue to support the club financially on a pro-rata basis, though Davison has confirmed that the full sum of parachute payments used to finance their purchase of the club in the summer of 2018 has not yet been repaid.

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Donald has previously insisted that they will be repaid before he departs the club entirely.

"Around about £11 million of the parachute payment was outstanding at the time Kyril took control of the club," Davison said.

"Since that moment, Kyril and the other shareholders have been funding the club, and the pandemic has meant there have been a lot of additional costs to cover.

"At this stage, the parachute payments have not been repaid in full."

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Donald released a statement to The Athletic on Wednesday in response to the widespread anger at the scale of his continued shareholding, saying that he would sell 'at the level initially accepted'.

“When Kyril Dreyfus arrived last year as SAFC’s major shareholder, Stewart was happy to hand over control of the running of the club to him and, together with Charlie Methven, voluntarily waived their right to be on the board,” a spokesman for Donald said.

“From that moment on — with Kyril Dreyfus and Juan Sartori being on the board — Stewart’s only active involvement has been covering his pro-rata funding commitment.

“In the period directly preceding Kyril Dreyfus’ arrival in February 2021, the combined effects of COVID and the Ricky Alvarez case necessitated cash injections from the then-shareholders of £11.35 million into Sunderland AFC, as revealed in the accounts published last summer.

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“Subsequently in Kyril Dreyfus’ first year in charge, the amount required has been £8.1 million to date, which is expected to rise to around £10 million by the summer (making total shareholder funding more than £21 million in less than three years).

“Throughout that time, in common with all shareholders, Stewart has contributed his share of financing pro rata to his shareholding.

"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.”

Charlie Methven also released a statement to The Athletic, saying: “I have deliberately not taken up my seat on the board because, just like Stewart, I don’t want to have an active role in the running of the club,” he added.

“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.”