SAFC’s CEO, Jim Rodwell, reckons that Stewart Donald will take a back seat, leaving him to run the club on a day-to-day basis, which I guess is his job. But with Charlie Methven gone and Juan Sartori never around anyway, it seems that the former non-league player will effectively have the run of the place.
"Ultimately, Stewart is the chairman of the football club and his raw passion and focus is on the football – he needs to have a handle on what is going on at the football club," said Rodwell. "But the day-to-day operational things he can leave those in my hands, and Angela [Lowes, Sunderland's finance director] and Neil [Fox, executive director], and the rest of the senior management team. I think that's what Stewart wants. I always say that my job as chief executive of any football club is to enable the owners to come to a game on a Saturday afternoon and enjoy themselves. They are paying other people to take some of the flak, to deal with some of the issues, count the paperclips, whatever. I will report to Stewart and since I have been in situ, I have spoken to Stewart most days, and to the senior management team two or three times a day, because that’s how we are having to action it.
"I just want Stewart and the other owners and directors to be able to come to a game of football with as little aggravation as possible. Stewart will always be involved, he cares deeply, it comes across in Series Two of the Netflix documentary. I thought it was fascinating watching that play-off semi-final second leg at Portsmouth last season when Sunderland drew 0-0 and Stewart was in with the fans, even when you get the result that you want [an owner] almost can't celebrate – it doesn't give you a feeling of ecstasy, it's just a feeling of absolute relief. You very rarely feel the ecstasy, it's just the relief or the pain, depending on the result. So we've just got to try and get the football right. If we can get promoted this season, and I think we have got a great chance when I look at what we've got and who we've got coming back from injury, and we look at the teams who might be slightly above us at the moment – there's no reason why we can't go ahead and beat these teams."
Rodwell will also be the public face of the club. He said: "It's something that I’ve discussed every day since my appointment. It's desperately important and we can't achieve anything without those fans. I'll be front and centre, meeting fans and groups. Fan engagement is crucial, I'm honest and straightforward and will tell people as much as I can tell them. I think some supporters might think that I’m parachuted into Sunderland and you don’t have the same feel for the club that they do, but let me tell you that it does matter to me. You'll see me at matches and I will be the world’s biggest Sunderland fan. It matters, it matters to me, it matters to my life. This will be my job, I won’t have any others. I resigned from my positions on the boards at the EFL and FA last July so this is my job and it will matter to me desperately. It’s a wonderful opportunity for me and my working time will be on Wearside. I will be there, I’ll be at home games and away games, and will be accountable for that."