Stewart Donald: Sunderland owner sacked Jack Ross to 'boost promotion chances'

Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald
Stewart Donald completed his takeover of Sunderland in May 2018

Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald says he sacked Jack Ross as he thinks a different manager would give them a better chance of going up this season.

The Black Cats, beaten play-off finalists in 2018-19, are sixth in the League One table after 11 games.

"My judgement call would be that our best chance of promotion would be to change it," Donald told BBC Newcastle.

"The only thing that is going to prove that is at the end of the season - whether or not we do get promoted."

Ross took over at the Stadium of Light in May last year and steered the club to fifth in the table in his first campaign, having drawn a division-high 19 games.

The Wearsiders reached the finals of the EFL Trophy and League One play-offs, losing to Portsmouth and Charlton Athletic respectively.

Scotsman Ross, 43, was dismissed on Tuesday with Sunderland four points off the automatic promotion places heading into Saturday's trip to second-placed Wycombe Wanderers.

"Jack certainly felt he probably had to win every game and any time we lost a game it was very difficult for him," Donald added.

"That is a high-pressure environment, but that is Sunderland in League One.

"The reality of this club is we have the best travel arrangements, the best medical investment, we have the best facilities, we have got the best budget. I believe we have got the best squad.

"We are, I would have thought, the most professional League One club there has ever been in lots of ways. With that set-up, I think it is fair to expect us to deliver success.

"At any other club in League One, there is probably very little chance of being sacked being sixth in the table."

Former Sunderland manager Jack Ross
Former St Mirren manager Ross only lost 10 of his 76 games in charge of Sunderland

Donald tight-lipped on potential investment

Meanwhile, Donald denied that the possibility of a takeover or fresh investment into the club was the reason for parting company with Ross.

"The decision with Jack was one that I sat down and made," Donald said.

"I can't talk about the investment. If there wasn't any potential investment, I'd be able to talk about it.

"The fact I can't talk about it means it is ongoing.

"I am responsible for looking after the club and trying to make the right calls.

"I am trying to find quality individuals or groups of people that will invest in the future of the club in the long-term.

"In the short term we do not need anybody's help to get out of League One financially. We have got plenty of money to do what we need to do."

Lambert questions Ross departure

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert described Sunderland's decision to sack Ross as "harsh".

The Tractor Boys are unbeaten and have a four-point lead at the top of the third tier under Lambert, who led Norwich to the League One title in 2009-10.

"I don't think he [Ross] has had long enough at all - he's started to rebuild a club which was going down and down," the 50-year-old told BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound.

"It's probably unfair I think.

"I think people look at the division and what happened last year, where Sunderland are in stature as a club, and think they've got a divine right to be up there.

"I'm never really surprised by football because of the way the game is - people lose jobs even when things are going well."