SUNDERLAND shareholders Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven are in talks to sell their shares of the club to a cryptocurrency group known as The Fans Together, it has been revealed. 

Donald and Methven, who owned a combined share of 39% of the club, had accepted an offer last week from an unnamed party for their shares with the sale expected to go through before the start of the Championship campaign.

The Northern Echo received a statement from The Fans Together confirming they are currently in discussions with the pair to buy their shares.

The statement reads: “The Fans Together, an organisation dedicated to bringing large scale widespread fan ownership to reality, confirms it is in discussions with Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven to acquire all of their 39% stake in Sunderland AFC.

“In Sunderland, we have deliberately chosen a club with a large fanbase that is in a sound financial state and we are keen to work with existing shareholders to continue to build momentum achieved through the recent promotion to the Championship.

“While discussions are ongoing, we are unable to provide further information at this moment in time. However, we will update fans and wider stakeholders as soon as possible.”

On The Fans Together website, their About page describes themselves as a ‘DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) dedicated to bringing sports fans together from across the globe to give them power and say in professional sports club’.

It continues: ‘To achieve this goal, we, The Fans Together, are utilising Tangle, a Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) created by the IOTA Foundation to create a fast, free, frictionless way for fans to engage with their sports club. Through our governance structure, fans will have a real say in their club’s operations.

‘Anyone who owns at least one of the Fans Together $TFT tokens will be able to debate, contribute and, ultimately, decide through votes and polls, the direction of their sports clubs. Votes within the DAO are proposed by the TFT team and then token holders will be able to participate, deciding the outcome.’

The Fans Together would have to pass the EFL’S Owners and Directors test for the takeover to be sanctioned whilst there will be a number of other hurdles to overcome.

The governing body have to approve the transference of shares, with the process expected to take around a month.

Fans have expressed concern at the way the financial model works as fans would effectively have to fund the shares through their version of cryptocurrency.

Reports suggest that Methven has confirmed that the pair are in talks with ‘two external parties’ who have submitted ‘acceptable offers’ for their shares of the club. 

Mevthen told The Athletic: “The Chairman of Sunderland AFC has asked that a sale of our shares be completed before the start of next season if at all possible, which we entirely agree with, but ultimately, that is now in the hands of the bidders and their lawyers.”

Donald and Methven relinquished control of the club in February last year when Kyril Louis-Dreyfus acquired a 41% majority share. However, a combination of Donald, Methven and Juan Sartori, also known as Madrox, still have a stronger percentage share of the club. American businessman Sartori owns a share of the club that is valued at around 20%.

The pair have presided over a turbulent reign at Sunderland. In their first season in League One, they fell at the final hurdle losing play-off final to Charlton Athletic in 2019.

The Black Cats would go on to have another three seasons in the third tier but did win the Papa John’s Trophy last season. 

Donald announced that he was looking to sell up at the end of 2019, and it looked as though his time with Sunderland was over when Louis-Dreyfus arrived on the scene in late 2020. However, while Donald stood down as chairman when Louis-Dreyfus’ purchase of some of his shares was confirmed, it emerged last season that the southern-based insurance chief was still a major shareholder at the club.

Questions were raised over Sunderland’s ownership structure once again when head coach Alex Neil wanted assurances he would be ‘given the tools he needs’ for a season in the Championship.

However, Donald and Methven’s shares of the club look set to be told ahead of the start of the 2022/23 Championship campaign. Sunderland ended their four year stay in League One after achieving promotion via the play-offs beating Wycombe Wanderers in their Wembley final.