Assessing Kyril Louis-Dreyfus' latest boardroom move at Sunderland and the surprise return of Juan Sartori

At the end of their first meeting with the supporter collective, Sunderland's new executive team (including Kyril Louis-Dreyfus) set the date for their next meeting (Tuesday May 11th).

Friday, 7th May 2021, 12:30 pm

In the grand scheme of things this may have appeared to be a largely inconsequential detail, but given what came before it was a reassuring move.

In the latter days of the Madrox era these meetings had been halted entirely. There had not been since July, an acrimonious summit that would lead to Stewart Donald standing down as Chairman, his position untenable.

The resumption of structured dialogue in the aftermath of Louis-Dreyfus' arrival represented a welcome commitment to professional engagement, and on Thursday there was a signal of why this would be so important.

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Maurice and Kyril Louis-Dreyfus

Louis-Dreyfus announced four new appointments to the club's board, and for the most part they reflected the control he now has over the club.

Steve Davison, the club's Chief Operating Officer, has been appointed director. An obvious move, given the size of the day-to-day remit he has been given. In the appointments of

Davison and Kristjaan Speakman, Louis-Dreyfus had quickly moved to address the muddled and often woefully sparse management structure that came to define large parts of the Madrox tenure.

Perhaps least surprising was the appointment of Louis-Dreyfus' twin brother, Maurice.

It was a move mooted even before the takeover was confirmed, and the strong relationship between the pair has been obvious even from a distance.

Maurice has been a regular on Wearside, and has travelled with his brother all over the country as they were initiated in the unique footballing climate of League One.

The 24-year-old has clearly caught the bug. Not so long ago, he took to his instagram story to toast Aiden McGeady's continuing fine form, a nod to the fact that he has kicked every ball alongside his brother.

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus had already moved to strengthen his support network in February, appointing Igor Levin and Patrick Treuer as directors.

The latter was at Wembley as Sunderland lifted the Papa John's Trophy in March, and as CFO of the Louis-Dreyfus company is clearly a trusted confidante.

Levin, meanwhile, is the family lawyer who had a significant role during the their tenure at Olympique de Marseille.

Consider, too, that the presence of Louis-Dreyfus himself has far surpassed what anyone might have expected when the news first broke that he was leading a takeover bid last year.

He has relocated to Wearside and has been away for the club for only the briefest of spells since the deal was closed. Signs of his influence and commitment have been constant.

The point here is that this is a club now firmly in Louis-Dreyfus' image. At boardroom level and on a day-to-day basis, he is without question the club's crucial figure in decision making.

His early months in charge have seen investment in key areas of the club, both in the obvious financial sense but also in the level of care and attention with which historic shortcomings have started to be addressed.

Promotion or otherwise, it is hard to understate the extent to which it feels as if the prospects for the club have been transformed from a year ago.

The rebuilding challenge remains vast all the same and so the appointment of Juan Sartori came as something of a surprise.

Of course, a relationship between the new regime and the old is a must when the latter retains a shareholding in the club.

Louis-Dreyfus himself alluded to this in his opening address to supporters, recognising that they will continue to support the club even if he is in control.

And for all Sartori clearly has close ties to the Madrox regime, his background tells you that there may well be a long-standing relationship (or at least a rapport of some sorts) with Louis-Dreyfus.

The same could be said of the fourth appointment to the board, Simon Vumbaca, who represented Madrox in their acquisition of the club but also has extensive sporting experience in his career as an international litigator.

There can be no rewriting history, though, and Sartori's presence as a shareholder through one of the worst periods in the club's history means he is partly accountable for it.

To what extent he was a key architect or relative bystander may be contested, but he was part of a regime that stood in its eventual actions as the opposite of the vision that Louis-Dreyfus has outlined.

His role (or lack of) was also at the heart of the complete collapse in trust between the regime and the fanbase. The Uruguayan came to act as a metaphor for the gap between what they were told their club would look like, and what it so clearly was.

As they were told their club was on the path back to where it belonged, they watched it drift ever further away. As Sartori was regularly put forward as being set for a more active role, fans watched as his political career in Uruguay grew at pace.

Sartori may not have been part of Madrox's initial acquisition of the club, but last week's accounts also underlined that the repayment of parachute payment money is an issue which appears to be far from settled.

Sartori remains the enigma at the heart of a troubled time for the club, and his presence will undoubtedly raise some eyebrows.

That does not and should not be any impediment to Louis-Dreyus' progress at the club.

In his actions he will demonstrate the extent to which he will address Madrox's legacy, and so far the progress has been immensely encouraging.

In his (or from those of his executive team) words, he can also continue to demonstrate why this is a club moving in a very different direction.

Dialogue and transparency are the key. With that, he can move the club forward with genuine excitement for those watching on.

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