Accounts from Sunderland show a £20.5 million hole that causes customers to walk away, Sportsmail exposed.

Last year we disclosed that majority shareholder Stewart Donald used Sunderland’s dividend payments to fund part of League One club’s £37 m acquisition in 2018.

The Daily Mail and the Times also released a confidential copy of the results for the year ended July 2019, revealing the club’s huge eight-figure coffer deficit. And as per the national sources, a variety of buyers who have tried to buy or invest in the company have been deterred by this big void.

The Mail and Times say the £20.5million shortfall in the balance sheet represents one of the bonus payments owed by Black Cats since their relegation to the Premier League. This number was reportedly used earlier to support the club’s purchase of Donald for £40million.

An investment firm (Madrox Partners) arranged the acquisition and the national media say that this £20.5million amount has been used to help finance the sale. It was previously suggested that the shareholders would repay the money, but the report states that Donald and his fellow shareholders have now written off the money by way of an ‘exceptional operating expense,’ which removes the money

Sunderland responded that the money would either be reimbursed as a donation or through shareholder funds. They say this process has already begun but it will take to be proved before the accounts for next year are released.

Would-be investors, however, say that no promise was made for the money being returned during the takeover negotiations, with the asking price being about £35 m said.

The clarification given to us by the owners is that write off the debt was a condition of the £10 m loans they took from US investors FPP in October 2019, which had reversed their original intent to buy the club after performing due diligence.

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