It’s done. The club and the EFL have now confirmed that the sale of shares from Stewart Donald to Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has been processed and approved and we can all look forward to whatever happens next.
As widely trailed, it would appear that Donald has sold 60% of the shares to Louis-Dreyfus leaving him with 14%, Charlie Methven 6% and Sartori on 20%. It means that the power in the club rests entirely with KLD. His immediate appointment as Chairman also shows where the power lies. The fact the others have retained an interest in the share capital almost certainly shows that they can see where KLD will take the club and wanted to retain the potential to share in that success.
The appointments of Kristjaan Speakman and Steve Davison showed that the new owners are planning to source experienced cogs with relevant skills for the new machine. With the club still needing Academy management and scouting structures, I’m sure we’ll see more cogs fitting in shortly.
Those fans hoping that a billionaire owner guarantees success need only to look up the road to appreciate that throwing money in the wrong directions can be worse than spending nothing. Hell, look at the wasting of money that happened in our own club over the years. The lessons KLD needs to learn from Sunderland’s past is that constant patching up and short-term fixes cost a lot more than good maintenance and a strategy. Now is the time for good management.
Our club is perfectly positioned to utilise the academy, the region and the fans to maximise our opportunities on and off the pitch. Investment in the academy – the structures, the personnel and the players and a greater commitment to working with the community – schools, community projects, all sizes of businesses and, of course, the people who will hopefully sign up to the new project as season ticket holders, is where KLD’s money needs to be spent first.
Those hoping for big fees to be spent on the first team are likely to be disappointed. First and, perhaps most importantly, the Financial Fair Play rules are extremely restrictive and, while the Salary Cap has now been binned, future changes are likely and the club needs to forward proof their plans. Secondly, and perhaps most obviously, the transfer window is closed. That said, as I’ve written previously, I’d be hopeful that some of the existing players LJ (and KS) feel will be able to perform in the Championship should be signed up a soon as possible.
Personally, I’d like to see Willis offered a contract in the very near future. He represents everything that the club should be supporting and developing. Willis is a young man with huge potential and a popular member of the squad but, in some ways more importantly, he is a man who is currently in need of certainty as he starts his return to fitness. There have been times in the past when the club has not stood by people as well as the heart of a community should. I hope under KLD, Sunderland become known for doing things the right way in all things.
Turning the club round will take time, but hopefully we’ll see early progress showing us where we’re going. As the plans of the new owners become clearer, I hope we can, as fans, get back to focusing on what’s happening on the pitch and can feel confident that the cogs in and around the board room are running the machine efficiently and effectively. From what we’ve seen so far, the future looks positive for us all.