When a club is at its lowest ebb, it’s easy to become cynical about everything. Equally, when a shred of good news emerges, you can’t really blame anyone for clinging onto it.
We all know how Sunderland AFC has been through the wringer in recent years and how miserable the past 18 months have been especially. From failed promotion bids to failed takeovers, there hasn’t been much to smile about on Wearside lately.
So when news breaks that a young investor – who, by all accounts, is very switched on – is ready to buy out a large percentage of the football club, it’s understandable that people don’t just hope for the best but that they also believe this is a turning point. Especially when the removal of an uninspiring manager allows you to dream that a new boss will come in and guide the lads to promotion. ‘It’s the hope I can’t stand’ isn’t a phrase associated with us for nothing, after all. All we want is for that hope to be justified after years of misery. To put it in less flowery terms – we’re sick of being shit and we would just like to not be totally shit.
By the same token though, I don’t believe any supporters can be blamed for taking a more reserved attitude to the proposed new investment. We’ve been here before, whereby the current regime have had takeover deals lined up that ultimately didn’t materialise.
One example was the very exciting FPP deal which turned out to essentially be a loan, which is hardly the kind of thing that has you queuing up outside PC World to really show your allegiance by buying a shiny new Dell desktop. Instead, Madrox remained in charge and here we are, without a manager yet again, hoping some new life is breathed into the club both on and off the pitch.
It goes without saying: hopefully that is what happens. Hopefully we finally get the right manager in to steer us out of this division. Hopefully Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has not just the funds but the drive and the vision to shape the club off the field. Hopefully Juan Sartori shows us why he was brought on board in the first place. Hopefully Louis-Dreyfus brings in key figures like a shrewd Sporting Director and surrounds himself with the right kind of people.
While the people who played a huge part in rooting us to League One are still around though, I find it hard to get carried away just yet. Let’s be straight here – having Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven involved at Sunderland AFC is not good. Even if they have a reduced stake or reduced power, they have been shown to be both incompetent and divisive.
It is their fault more than anyone else’s that we’re still here, and let’s not forget that we were crying for Donald to be ‘Out’, not ‘Still here but with a reduced stake that he can potentially make even more money from later.’
Then there’s Methven, a man who has proved you don’t need to own a large percentage of the club to still be a big influence behind the scenes. If Louis-Dreyfus and Sartori aren’t going to be at Sunderland day-to-day, where does that leave Methven? Will he re-emerge as a key figure given he owns a percentage of the club and his close ties to Sartori? Will he be entrusted to be one of their ‘men on the ground’? I certainly hope not, but I think it’s a fair question and one that can hopefully be clarified when everything is sealed.
However, for as long as these people have any involvement with our football club whatsoever, it’s alarming. When everyone at the club needs some positivity and to be brought together, how can we have someone like him still owning a percentage of our club, given what he has allegedly said about the supporters? Alleged comments that are so frequent they’re now met with a shrug of the shoulders, as the digs have come to be expected. This new investment certainly represents progress, but it’s hardly the clean break from Madrox that we were hoping for.
I’ll go back to the word I have continuously used in this article: hopefully Donald and Methven retaining shares is just a necessary step we have to take toward being completely rid of them. Hopefully this takeover was worth waiting for. Hopefully I’m worrying over nothing and I’ll look back on this piece from the highs of the Championship, wondering what the fuck I was ever concerned about, as we score a last minute winner against some jobbers like QPR.
We’ve been burnt before. There haven’t been many fanbases that have been kicked as much as us. And that’s why I can’t get carried away just yet and I don’t think anyone can blame me for that, not after we got swept up in what promised to be a new dawn just two years ago. Remember when the piss taking party was over? Call me cynical if you like, I just really don’t want to feel lied to again.
Hopefully (there’s that word again) this time really is different. Time will tell.