Phil Smith: Damning survey results underline exactly why Sunderland fans are so keen for change

Sunderland supporters have had their say and there were many eye-catching results.

Thursday, 23rd July 2020, 2:00 pm

The Echo surveyed the Black Cats' support for their views on the Madrox regime and over 90% said they were either unhappy or deeply unhappy with the ownership.

Over 91% want a sale.

It reflects the ever-growing feeling in recent months that this is a failed regime, and that there is no way back in the future.

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Sunderland owners Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven

Scepticism, anger and concern with the Madrox tenure has been growing for over a year but a number of recent events, including damaging financial revelations in May and the appallingly handled season card renewal and refund scheme, have underlined it.

Scratch beneath the surface, and these results highlight the fact that this is not just about failure on the pitch, far from it, in fact.

Over 80% of those surveyed said that any new owner's priority should be a plan for the long-term development of the club.

This is a key focus because it has been so absent in the past two years (and in fairness, for a few years before that).

A lack of focus and investment in the club's recruitment structures, a short-termist approach to footballing decisions, and the constant background noise of takeover talk has taken its toll.

Trust in the club's messaging has also been entirely eroded by lofty promises that have not been delivered on and a number of contradictory claims, reflected in the large number concerned with the arrangements used to finance the purchasing of the club from Ellis Short.

It is not that solely that Sunderland are entering a third season in League One that is the issue.

It is because they are doing so on the back of no real long-term plan, and that they are seemingly still without one, that is at the heart of the discontent.

The steady drain of talent from the club's hugely respected institution, an alarming process that has accelerated in recent times, has been another key part of the calls for change.

Too often, the hierarchy have given the impression that they believe a few good results will change the mood and make much of the discontent go away.

It would help, certainly, but this shows that disappointment with what has happened on the pitch is only one chapter of the story.

With no takeover close (and fans not expecting that to change given the £37.6 million asking price), a dramatic fortnight behind the scenes has seen Donald's decision-making network at the club almost entirely picked apart.

A raft of key appointments are imminent and a new structure will be tasked with trying to rebuild from the chaos of the last two years while interest parties continue to monitor the situation.

Sunderland fans, though, have seen enough.

Two years is long enough to judge words against actions, and the results are clear to see.