Sunderland owner gives insight into deadline day dealings

Sunderland owner Stewart Donald is not happy with how Wigan Athletic conducted the Will Grigg transfer negotiations.

Talking to the Roker Rapport podcast, Donald revealed some of his frustrations with how Wigan handled the deal, claiming they repeatedly moved the goalposts, leading to Sunderland placing seven bids before they finally captured the Northern Ireland internationals signature, fifty seconds before the transfer window closed.

Donald claims someone connected to Wigan Athletic initially told the Black Cats that Grigg was available for £1 million and in response, Sunderland twice tried bids below that figure before eventually meeting a valuation given them by the Latics, who then told him the striker was not for sale at that price.

Donald also denied that the Black Cats initial bids were well below Wigans valuation. “I didn’t low-ball them with one or £200,000, it was double that,”

“We had a meeting instigated by someone connected at Wigan who told us he was available at £1million.”

“When someone says £1million you don’t go straight in at £1million because you know it will be £1.5million so we went in twice below £1million but not super low-balling.”

“It got to a stage where they said that’s the figure, so we then put in a bid and just got a response back that said he’s not for sale at that price.”

Donald went on to say that when a bid of £1.5 Million was rejected the Black Cats interest cooled and they started to consider other targets but were  put off by prices Donald described as “ridiculous.”

Sunderland revived the deal in the final days of the window when Donald decided he had to do all he could to get the deal over the line, knowing manager Jack Ross was extremely keen on the striker.

“I left it as late as I could to go in with that last offer,” which Donald believes he made at around 7 pm on deadline day.

“We signed him I think with about 50 seconds to spare, we got the paperwork back with four minutes to go and then had to get it through.”

Further controversy also surrounds the collapse of the deal which would have seen Costa Rican international full-back, Bryan Oviedo sign for West Brom.

Speaking to in his native Costa Rica, the former Everton player said he drove to the West Midlands on Thursday evening, passed his medical and was waiting to complete the deal, but the relevant paperwork did not come through from Sunderland on time.

Donald insists however that the fault was with West Brom and the player, telling the Roker Rapport podcast that “We let Bryan talk to West Brom and West Brom said they would like to do it. We said OK. This was with plenty of time to get the deal done and then on lunchtime on transfer deadline day our focus is completely and utterly on the ins.”

“It was a bit of good news on the outs because it would help with the cashflow. If the footballing decision is the right thing, then it is all right. We left it to Bryan and West Brom, and we were sat there waiting for the paperwork and the paperwork never arrived.”

“So why that didn’t happen is down to West Brom and Bryan, not Sunderland. We agreed for him to go. They didn’t complete the deal.”

Our View

A fascinating insight into the madness of deadline day from the Sunderland owner. It is welcome to see and hear an owner being so open however he might be better advised keeping his powder dry. Other clubs may be looking on with interest at how he not only conducts his business but how some things which should perhaps stay behind closed doors come out into the open.

Back Cats supporters might also be puzzled at how, if what Donald says his true, the club paid four times the selling clubs initial valuation. Sunderland overpaid for players in the past, and Donald promised a new approach, but no one will care if Grigg catches fire and scores the goals that return them to the Championship.

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