WILLIAM STOREY has promised Sunderland fans a minimum of £50million to launch them back into the Premier League.
A controversial figure in Formula One, Storey’s bid was largely met with derision and scepticism on Wearside.
SunSport can reveal Storey faces a winding up petition in October over an alleged unpaid loan of £5.5million.
But the shaggy-bearded Londoner insists he is no fly-by-night chancer, and has the best offer on the table to rescue the League One crisis club.
Donald is desperate to sell for the £37.6million he paid Ellis Short in 2018, and while another unknown party has reportedly entered a period of exclusivity, Storey remains bullish.
He told SunSport: “A £50million investment, above and beyond the acquisition, would be a minimum commitment.
“The fans need to be excited and I want to make a statement with big names, both on and off the pitch.
“I’ve been working on this for around four months and have already got four big-name Premier League players in mind that we could get quickly.
“For the scale of investment required I need significant backing from some real big-hitters – which I have got.
It’s like a Rolls Royce, but a Rolls Royce tucked away in the garage under a load of dust.
“Sunderland fans will be very impressed with the world class people I have pulled together.
“The group is largely comprised of supporters and we have a long-term plan.
“We are not corporate suits who want to get in and sell it on – we want to build it – Sunderland has unique potential if the right people are involved.”
A West Ham fan with links to owners David Gold and Sullivan, Rich Energy were the Hammers’ Women’s team first sponsor in 2017.
Storey said his fires were stoked after meeting former Black Cats owner Short four months ago.
And he is adamant Sunderland fans will back his bid when they know what he can bring to the party.
Storey, 41, added: “I’m au fait with what’s going on with other parties and I know we have put together a vastly better offer.
“If we are taken on our merits, we will win – we are not seeking to undervalue the club to get in on very low terms.
“I fear the current owners are being squeezed to try and force them into a sub-par deal.“I have a very detailed blueprint for the next five years.
“I’d be an idiot to say when we will reach the Premier League.
All you can do is put all the ingredients in place to make it an inevitability, but that could take three years, it could take five.
“The club is not a quick fix, but the fix is obvious.
“It needs to be well resourced and planned, and not a case of another party who is underfunded just looking to get it into a slightly better position to sell on.
“It’s like a Rolls Royce, but a Rolls Royce tucked away in the garage under a load of dust.”
I’ve got a phrase that when you’re wrong you can’t be strong – and the reason I can be strong is because I’ve done nothing wrong.
Storey’s Rich Energy sponsored the Haas F1 team in 2018 but the contract was terminated in mysterious surroundings.
Dubbed ‘the sketchiest sponsor in F1’, his time in the sport ended with lawsuits from Red Bull and a winding up petition in October for unpaid debts of £5.5m.
Red Bull sued Rich Energy last year for copyright infringement after using the hashtag #betterthanredull as well as the slogan ‘Forget wings, Rich Energy gives you horns’.
A source close to Storey’s business dealings speculated his bid to buy Sunderland is a “total fantasy” and simply a “tool for leverage in his upcoming court case”.
But Storey is adamant he will be “wholly vindicated” in October and would have no problem passing the EFL’s Owners’ and Directors’ test.
He said: “I’ve got a phrase that when you’re wrong you can’t be strong – and the reason I can be strong is because I’ve done nothing wrong.
“I’ve gone in and been the only person to take it to Red Bull, who hate me because they have no leverage on me.
“I know I will be wholly vindicated in October and will have zero problems with the EFL tests.
“I welcome any scrutiny and think I can do a wonderful job for Sunderland.”