Cash-strapped Sunderland AFC spent £30,000 on image report despite suffering £9.9million losses

Sunderland AFC spent £30,000 on a report into how it was perceived, only to be told it was '˜an old-fashioned football club,' the new executive director has revealed.

Charlie Methven was speaking at the launch of the Black Cats’ new business club at the Stadium of Light last night, and revealed some of the decisions which had contributed to the financial situation under the previous regime.

The latest club accounts, which cover the year from August 1, 2016, to July 31, 2017 - a period which saw David Moyes replacing Sam Allardyce in the dug-out and a desperately disappointing season which ended in relegation from the Premier League - showed a loss before tax of £9.9million for the financial year.

SAFC Director Charlie Methven

As part of his speech, Charlie Methven revealed the club spent £30,000 to commission a report from an external branding company on what it represented, only to be told it was ‘an old-fashioned football club.’

“We could have told you that for 30p, sat in Oxfordshire,” said Mr Methven.

Other discoveries included:

· Sunderland was paying ‘£1,000 a month to rotate plastic plants round the various rooms’;

Charlie Methven explains the new Sunderland business club

· There was not a single person selling sponsorship;

· There were 15 people working in marketing and PR but only one in commercial sales;

· The club had been employing ‘just over twice as many people as Newcastle United’.

The previous regime had spent money ‘trying to be something they weren’t,” he said.

Charlie Methven addresses the meeting

“They had forgotten what Sunderland is.”

The aim now was to be ‘a proper football club, and proud of it.’

“It is the people, it is the history, it is the culture - that is what a proper football club is and we need to get back to that being proud of that.”

Coming from down south, he and new chairman Stewart Donald had been overwhelmed by the support for the club, he said.

Guests at the Stadium listen to Charlie Methven

“A lot of my football career has been about trying to make people passionate when probably they did not want to be,” he said.

“This is not a problem in the North East, it is not a problem in Sunderland.

“The passion is unbelievable and it is passion that is expressed very openly. People will tell you exactly what they are thinking and what they think you should do.”

Mr Methven, Stewart Donald and new director Juan Sartori promised to be open and honest with fans: “PR does not mean telling lies, it does not mean spin,” he said.

“What it is about is communication and communication is a two-way process.

“We will always be accessible because we want to have that conversation.”