Kyril Louis Dreyfus gave his first interview since becoming the majority shareholder at Sunderland at half time during the Fleetwood game. We all got the chance to take our first impressions of the man who has been urged and beckoned by every Sunderland fan ever since the link was first announced. The major theme was “long term plans” and “sustainability”.
There were some things in there which you expected to hear, his passion for football, his admiration of the fans and the stadium, the famous old history. These are givens and can easily be swept over, but it was a little surprising to hear that he had always admired Sunderland. To hear that the Stadium of Light is known all over the world. While languishing in League One it’s hard to remember that the top flight of English football is shown worldwide and millions of people will have seen the stadium lift when Defoe cracked that beauty in against the mags.
There was an acknowledgement that the takeover had taken longer than expected, no explanation, but an acknowledgement. KLD thanked the fans and staff for their patience. There was repeated mention of the faith in Lee Johnson, Kristjaan Speakman and Steve Davison and assurances that more appointments are to follow. This is encouraging, especially given they haven’t worked for Eastleigh.
There was a candid admission that the club has suffered from a period of austerity and the term asset stripping was used by KLD. The first open admission from the club that things have been paired back to the bone perhaps. KLD was keen to bring hope to that though and indicated that there was a lot of work (for this read investment) needed to bring us back to a competitive level. This is a long term plan and throughout the interview the mood to sweep the past away and move on with the new plan is prevalent. We have heard similar things said before of course, but KLD is in a more trustworthy position as he has already done things to make a difference that have cost him money.
There are challenges that he admits. The pandemic has created expected losses, KLD sits comfortably as he says these will be dealt with. In terms of promotion this season, we have a strong squad enough, but don’t panic if we miss out. This is a long term plan after all. We have to “rebuild from the foundations”. That goes beyond the club as well. There is a desire to engage meaningfully with fans, to improve the matchday experience even for those sitting at home watching streams. This is difficult for everyone and KLD recognises that the club need to work with the city and the Foundation to bring the whole place back on its feet. Communications with fans will improve. You get the impression this time you can believe that, not because his words are better, but he has carried out actions on that front before talking about them. Chris Waters has been brought back from furlough, the streaming service has been revamped and pitch lighting investment has been announced. The money came before the mouth.
All in all, a very promising start for KLD but that happened before he was interviewed. Bienvenue Kyril. Right, back to the match, are we winning yet?