Kevin Ball deserves a key role with Sunderland, says ex-SAFC star Alex Rae

Kevin Ball

Kevin Ball

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Alex Rae has called on Sunderland to give more responsibility to Kevin Ball in the running of the club.

The Scot, who spent last season as assistant to Alex McLeish at Dutch side Racing Genk, has kept a close watch on what has been happening at the Stadium of Light.

For me, it’s obvious that they should draw on Bally’s knowledge and experience. It’s a no-brainer

Former Sunderland midfielder Alex Rae

And he believes that with the club getting flak for not having enough “football people” on the board, his former skipper would be the obvious solution.

He told the Echo: “I cannot believe that Kevin is not more involved than he is – it seems a total waste of his ability to me.

“Sometimes I wonder if he hasn’t paid a price for his loyalty. He’s a very good coach, a very good leader and motivator and yet the club has moved him into an ambassador role.

“It seems a strange decision to me.

“That’s not to say he isn’t a great ambassador for the club – he’s always been that – but if you ask me, the fact that he’s actually available and on Sunderland books right now, I can’t believe they’re not making better use of him than they are.

“We’ve all been reading about the criticisms about how from the board upwards, there’s no real football experience to draw on and we’ve all read questions about whether Lee Congerton is the right man to be making decisions.

“So, for me, it’s obvious that they should draw on Bally’s knowledge and experience.

“It’s a no-brainer.”

Ball has twice been caretaker of the club in moments of crisis – in 2006 and 2013 – sparking improvements in sides with shattered confidence.

And Rae says Ball’s readiness to take on responsibility in difficult times is the hallmark of the Sunderland legend’s character.

He said: “I feel a bit for Kevin in that whenever he was made caretaker it was at times when the club was at rock bottom – relegated or demoralised.

“The cause was lost and he was never in the position to have a budget, to bring in players in.

“And I think he deserves credit on those occasions for stepping up and taking on a thankless task. Many others would have shirked it because they knew they were on to a hiding to nothing, but he never ducked it.

“For me, Kevin Ball epitomises everything that Sunderland Football Club is, and should be, about.

“It’s my club too and I’ll always have a massive affection for it and I want to see it rising up the Premier League because the fans deserve that – it is an amazing club.

“But I think Sunderland are currently reaping the consequences of the way they have been run over the last few seasons.

“And I think getting Kevin into a position where he’s got more say in the way the club is run – it’s standards and the importance of putting the club before yourself, I think that would be a great start.

“I think the club has lacked a real football man at the top since the departure of big Quinny, who was Sunderland through and through.

“And giving Kevin Ball a place on the board, or giving him more responsibility, is one obvious way you could start to plug that gap.

“He knows Sunderland and he knows football and, in my opinion, the club is missing a trick by not making the most of him.”