David Preece: Non-executive board members aren’t a necessity for Sunderland - much more is needed to pull the club from its long-term malaise

Christmas came early in the Preece household last week as the SVFF (Swedish FA) overturned their decision to withdraw Östersunds’ elite licence and thereby demote the side to the second tier.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 11:44 am

The club launched an appeal which was heard in Stockholm a week last Wednesday and the result is the club will deservedly be playing in Allsvenskan 2020.

It’s a happy end to a tumultuous year but hopefully the experience will be the foundation for a better year on the pitch and on the balance sheet.

When football clubs are in dire straits, the hope is that a Sugar Daddy is found to bail you out but the rules are different in Sweden.

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Sunderland chairman Stewart Donald.

Due to the ruling that no one person or company can own more than 49% of a club, it decreases the prospect of someone coming in to save the day and taking total control. Which, quite understandably, is the least you’d want if you’re putting up that kind of dough.

Personally, no matter how much I love Sunderland, I could think of a million things I’d rather do with unimaginable wealth that pour it into the black hole that is a football club, but as we have seen on many occasions, stories of extreme wealth and football clubs don’t always always go well.

As it is, I’d have trouble buying a decent 3 iron never mind a football club, so there’s no need to worry about an imminent approach to Stewart Donald for his stake. He’s more than welcome to take the risk.

Talking of our current chairman, his two new appointments to the board have begun the much-needed process of implementing the restructuring so badly needed. But to be honest, non-executive board members aren’t a necessity right now.

Both Dave Jones and Tom Sloanes clearly have the club at heart but it would be nice to have someone come in with a template for change that will ultimately lead to success. People with a proven track record. Sadly though, these appointments aren’t it.

Sloanes admitted as much that he wasn’t yet aware of his remit and again, that brings the question of direction. Bringing someone in without setting out why they’re being brought in for smacks of doing something for the sake of it.

It’s all well and good saying that if everyone comes together/is on the same page then we’ll do all right, but have we decided which book we’re supposed to be reading from or are we still browsing in the library?

Jones has also made noises about lifting the apathy and bringing positivity back but until real tangible changes are brought about, they’re just plain platitudes we’ve heard before.

After all, wasn’t last season about positivity and building bridges to reconnect the club with the fans? Isn’t that what replacing the seats at the SOL was about? The charm offensives on radio and podcasts?

Wasn’t Tony Davison brought in because he was a Sunderland fan who just “got the club”? I’m afraid positivity, pom poms and Pollyanna thinking isn’t what is going to pull the club from its current and frankly, long-term malaise.

When the club finds itself in its lowest ever standing on English football’s ladder, every decision is, and should, be scrutinised by those who care about Sunderland and questions have to be asked whether they are appointments that are needed and ones that will help get us back in the ascendancy.

Like an old comfort blanket, maybe negativity is easy to slip into because it has become so familiar, and questioning every decision through the eyes of an old cynic doesn’t make for a good outlook.

With every step down, the effort needed to propel us back up grows greater.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but if it had taken the Romans as long as it’s taken us to build this club up again, the Colosseum would still be classed as a new-build.

There’s a sense of the superficiality about it all right now and that’s not criticism for the sake of it.

I always said we were the kind of people who are your best friends until you prove us otherwise - but now it’s time for others to start proving their worth to us for a change.