STEWART DONALD has admitted he dismissed Jack Ross because he could not see Sunderland winning promotion with the Scotsman at the helm.

Ross was dismissed this afternoon with the Black Cats sitting in sixth position in the League One table, eight points adrift of leaders Ipswich Town, after claiming 19 points from their opening 11 games.

Last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at Lincoln City proved to be the final straw, and while Donald insists he did not take the decision to sack Ross lightly, he is confident it will prove to be the right call.

“It’s a difficult decision, a tough day,” said Donald. “We have become very close over the last 18 months, so it wasn’t a decision taken lightly.

“We have regular conversations and have done about expectations here, what we need and where it’s going.

“After the weekend, I think everyone was down after the game but the desire of the club to get promoted this season is clear – that’s the expectation. If you feel it is becoming less likely, you have to make a judgement call if you think you are going to get there.

“At this stage it may be too big a risk. We talk about stability at the club and weigh things up, but on balance how you see things day to day, my judgement call is the best chance of promotion is to change it.”

Ross’ position became extremely vulnerable when Sunderland’s travelling fans turned on him during last month’s 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers.

There was more criticism in the wake of last weekend’s defeat, but while he might be an active presence on social media, Donald insists he is not swayed by supporters’ opinions.

“I don’t read message boards and I take Twitter with a pinch of salt,” said the Black Cats owner, in an interview with BBC Newcastle. “Read my Twitter some days and you would think I wouldn’t make it to the ground without being set on fire – in reality it’s different.

“Those things aren’t a huge factor. Jack and I have spoke about it and if the fans do turn then it’s difficult to turn them back. He was feeling he had to win every game and when he lost it was very difficult for him in a high-pressure environment – that is Sunderland in League One.

“The decision hasn’t been made because I’ve been told what to do on Twitter. Some say I’ve acted slowly, some say it’s a knee-jerk reaction. Fans will be divided and we can only see by the end of the season if we are promoted.”

Automatic promotion remains the target, and while Sunderland have failed to win six of their ten league matches this season, Donald sees absolutely no reason why Ross’ successor should not be able to finish in the top two.

“Being the chairman and manager of Sunderland is wonderful,” he said. “At the same time, if it’s not right, it is very tough. We have had these conversations and on Saturday, Jack was very honest in his assessment.

“You look around the club, and a lot is said about it, but the reality of this club is we have the best travel arrangements, the best medical investment and facilities, the best budget, I believe the best squad. We are extremely well funded at this level.”