The arrival of Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has of course come with lots of positivity, as does any change in ownership. There was understandable caution regarding the deal, considering our previous history with owners. However, this does feel different.
There seems to be a structure in place- a plan that we’ve been so desperately crying out for throughout the past ten years. The recent overhaul of the academy; the appointments of Krisjaan Speakman, Lee Johnson and Stuart English; the immediate investment in the club’s streaming service and plans to upgrade the pitch. Everything is signalling towards a new dawn on Wearside, one that fans have every right to get excited about.
The moment that had the biggest impact for me in terms of fan relations is in Louis-Dreyfus' first interview with the club. One phrase particularly stood out and has subsequently been doing the rounds on social media: “The club has had no real long-term vison and cost-cutting at its forefront which has led to asset-stripping in almost all departments.”
The significance of this phrase is that the billionaire is under no illusions about the size of the task. He’s clearly done his research and seems to be prepared to invest where SD didn’t. This is obviously something much needed at the club and suggests we won’t be letting our academy prospects leave for pennies anymore. Early in his tenure, Louis-Dreyfus already seems to have his finger on the pulse and has already made attempts to re-engage a fanbase that has been so hugely alienated over the past few seasons.
Long-termism is so important for football clubs, particularly in these difficult times. A simple plan to follow can encourage supporters to keep the faith during the bad times and enjoy the good times whilst still looking towards the future. As we’re all too aware of, Sunderland has been the victim of many short-term solutions, last gasp survivals and risky gambles that have put the club’s future in jeopardy. Our new owner seems to be putting that behind us and building a sustainable, successful and stable infrastructure to thrive once more.
We must not forget that we’ve been here before, and therefore know all about false promises and bare faced lies. When the previous owners came in, they too were all about transparency, fan engagement and “Dortmund models”.
Like I said before, this time feels different though and Louis-Dreyfus' initial actions certainly seem to have more weight behind them and are in line with his ideas of a long-term vision for the club.