How the moment Sunderland fans longed for finally arrived and what needs to happen next

It was the moment that Sunderland supporters have been waiting for over a year.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 18th February 2021, 6:00 pm

A new owner at the Stadium of Light; officially confirmed. It was in early January last year that the club released a statement confirming that the sale process had begun.

In truth, though, that simply told supporters what they already knew.

Some element of ownership uncertainty has plagued the Black Cats for the best part of a decade, a problem most hoped the Madrox takeover would solve. In reality, the future only became ever more uncertain.

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Kyril Louis-Dreyfus is the new chairman of Sunderland

By the time Sunderland confirmed that they would look for new owners, there had already been two failed takeover attempts.

Mark Campbell had staff measuring up their new offices before his deal collapsed, while FPP Sunderland took in games from the Stadium of Light executive boxes before ultimately stepping away from a deal and injecting funds in the form of a loan.

So you could forgive the nervousness with which the Sunderland faithful waited for this club statement.

Arriving just hours after the club booked their place what will be an admittedly surreal Wembley final behind closed doors, the jubilation told you most felt it was worth the wait.

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has arrived with no major fanfare, just one paragraph acknowledging his pride and the magnitude of the task ahead.

No grand statements, no lofty promises.

For anyone who has followed Sunderland closely in recent years, that comes as something of a relief.

The story of the Madrox era was one in which words did not equate to actions.

After arriving they spoke of a model comparable to Borussia Dortmund, only for a steady and damaging drain of talent from the Academy of Light to begin.

They spoke of transparency, only for a long and contentious reveal over the reality of their purchase of the club to begin.

The departure of Ellis Short was the moment for Sunderland to reset and rebuild.

Instead, a failing regime locked the club into another spiral of short-term thinking and decision making, pushing Sunderland every day not closer to where they needed to be but further away.

Madrox will be a word forever synonymous on Wearside with acrimony and unfulfilled promises.

Louis-Dreyfus’ work has already begun, the appointments of Kristjaan Speakman and Lee Johnson a nod to an overdue change in direction.

The decline of the past two-and-half-years has left key departments understaffed and in need of urgent investment.

Though the mood on Wearside today is buoyant, the scars of the recent past run deep and it will take consistent, clear communication to rebuild trust.

Most important of all will be evidence of building blocks being put in place that will allow the club to grow not just this season, but in the years ahead.

There will no doubt be far more talk to come in the coming weeks and rightly so too, but this most understated of arrivals met the moment at a club where false dawns have too many.

This has been the worst period in Sunderland's history and hauling it back to where it belongs is going to be an arduous task.

For now, it's a moment for supporters to take stock and hope for better days ahead.

Patience tested, and hopefully rewarded in the months and years to come.

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