Finally, it’s over. After months of speculation, rumour, rancour and any number of either misleading or patently false statements, finally, after all this time, Sunderland AFC officially has a new owner. That is as important as another fact this moment confirms: the reign of the worst ownership group in the club’s history is now at an end. Chris Weatherspoon takes us through the Madrox Years and what the future may hold for the Black Cats.
It was fitting, really, that the final notable act of Sunderland AFC’s year came off the field rather than on it. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic laid waste to sizeable chunks of the footballing calendar, 2020 was already likely to be more notable for events surrounding the wider club than the actual football.
With Stewart Donald reported to have put the club up for sale on December 30th last year – and then confirming as much in person on BBC Radio Newcastle three days into January – it seemed pretty clear that events in the boardroom would garner their fair share of attention.
Finally, a name. Sixteen weeks on from being told the club is in “a period of exclusivity” with a prospective buyer, Friday saw Sunderland fans at last given a name and a face to put to months of rumour.
That name is Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, the 20-odd-year-old heir to a multi-billion Euro family fortune who, according to the Guardian, has been brought to the table by Juan Sartori, who himself is apparently looking to take a more active role on Wearside than he has displayed in the last two years.
My first season ticket coincided with the opening of the Stadium of Light. I was six years old, had gorged on a final year at Roker Park and, to my dad’s undoubted relief, wanted to come back for more. So delightful was this particular moment that I saw fit to get dressed in Sunderland’s full home kit and stand in the middle of my grandad’s garden to get a snap with my pride and joy, holding the little book of tickets out in front of me much like a convict might hold a placard. This was a very different type of life sentence.
On Thursday afternoon, for the first time in 23 years, I opted not to renew that season ticket. The intervening period has taken in four relegations and three years of living 200 miles away from the Stadium of Light, yet not once had the thought of not renewing ever crossed my mind. I’ll doubtless be back once the doors are open again, whenever that may be, but the events of the past week – and, indeed, the past two years – brought me to that point.
Sunderland AFC have released their plans for 2020/21 season ticket renewals, despite few having any idea what that season might look like. Chris Weatherspoon outlines how the club may see some understandable pushback from its undeniably loyal fan base – and how the decision currently facing supporters gives them far more influence than they may have realised in shaping the long-term future of our football club. Continue reading The Renewal Dilemma
The problem with a house of cards is that once one of those cards flutters away the rest are doomed to follow. Construct an outer edifice without the internal structure to reinforce it and, sooner or later, however hard you try, it will all come crumbling down.
People have come here not because they passionately want to be here, but because they’ve heard this is a place where you’ll get paid really well; not very high expectations; a pretty easy going culture, etc.
Take yourself back, if you can, to May 2018. It is a sunny start to the week, a Monday with endless possibilities and, on the banks of the River Wear, two men take their seats.
To hear Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven talk was to hear of a new beginning at Sunderland AFC. After years of drift, negligence and waste, factors which had combined to leave this once great club in the third tier for only the second time in its history, here were new owners, bringing with them new words, new ideas, new plans.
Sunderland should have played yesterday. Or, if you’re a little late to this, they should have played at the weekend. We should have made a trip down to Gigg Lane, our first in 13 years, around 2,000 away fans in tow, and faced off against last season’s League Two runners-up. That’s how things should have been.
Eighteen months have passed since their whirlwind takeover of Sunderland AFC and, seemingly, the wheels are coming off for Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven. Here, Chris Weatherspoon looks at the last 541 days and asks the question – where do they go from here?
A lot can happen in 14 minutes. Usain Bolt could run the 100m sprint 87 times. Lewis Hamilton could do nine and a half laps of Silverstone. And Sunderland can dash your hopes and bring you back to reality.