On Monday night, Red and White Army hosted an event at Pop Recs to allow fans to converse with the ownership, have a chat about where we all think Sunderland is going and – let’s be honest – ask about whether Ross Stewart will still be a Sunderland player come February.
In attendance were Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, Kristjaan Speakman, Steve Davison and non-exec director David Jones with Frankie Francis playing the role of moderator.
The first topic of conversation was around why it had taken so long to get to a point where we actually got to hear from KLD. The answer he gave seemed to focus around COVID, League One and most importantly he ‘wanted the right people alongside him’.
The meaning of this statement became more and more obvious as the night went on when it became clear David Jones was there as a buffer for KLD. Now, there is nothing wrong with that. English isn’t his first language, he is only 25 and a room full of Sunderland fans which (as we are told time and time again) is supposedly a very intimidating thing. Jones did a successful job of this throughout the night and KLD seemed very appreciative of it.
They then got onto the football and the agreement that League One was, as Dave Jones put it, ‘a shit league’ seemed pretty universal. Steve Davison supported him on this telling us that winning at Wembley was a massive relief for him but what was even better was tearing up his League One budget.
This is also the point in the night when the phrase ‘look at where we were this time last year’ was said a lot.
This was an interesting point for the group to make as it seemed they were wanting to effectively throw Donald and Co under the bus while a minor, but present, part of the group is still at the club in the form of Juan Sartori.
The question of Sartori’s involvement was put to the panel by WMS contributor Michael Lough. The answer we were given was along the lines of KLD ‘cannot comment on what happened before he arrived’ but that Sartori has been an asset as a result of his connections in South America and France and that KLD is very grateful for his support.
Finally, the topic we had all been waiting for was raised. The striker issue was brought up.
Speakman’s main point seemed to be that he believed the correct decisions were made by the recruitment team in the summer. He was happy with what we had brought in saying ‘we wanted two dynamic, strong strikers in Ross and Ellis. Our variety in that position was Leon (Dajaku) and Amad’ and also claimed that no one could have foreseen both our strikers getting injured.
On Stewart the comments were clearly pre-prepared and not to be wavered from. The same story we have been hearing for weeks in the form of ongoing conversations and planning for all eventualities.
When asked directly whether he would be a Sunderland player come February KLD replied ‘Plan A is to keep him. We would only consider selling someone if we had confidence we could replace him with someone better.’ So at this point who knows whether he will stay or go?
The night ended with KLD thanking us for our continued support and sticking with them through League One. In the room, it felt like they didn’t sound hopeful about Stewart, they didn’t sound hopeful about signing another striker but they did sound hopeful about what is to come for the club and after years of being short changed by various chancers it was nice to see some professionals representing the lads.