As soon as the final whistle blew after Sunderland’s pivotal win over Everton, top of Ellis Short’s “to-do” list was to appoint a new chief executive.
Sunderland had been without one ever since Margaret Byrne handed in her notice in March in the wake of the Adam Johnson scandal.
Martin Bain is the man tasked with the day-to-day running of the club when he starts his new role in July.
We take a look at six key challenges facing him.
Get the club on a firm financial footing:
Number one priority will be to get the club’s finances into line.
This won’t happen overnight but Short made it crystal clear that will be one of his main tasks. And it is no wonder.
Figures filed at Companies House for the financial year to July 31, 2015, revealed the Black Cats saw turnover fall from £104.4million to £101.1 million.
Reduced turnover and increased interest costs combined to push losses on ordinary activities before tax to £25.4million from £17.1million the previous year.
The new bumper television deal, cutting the wage bill and shipping out the deadwood will help.
Work with Sam Allardyce to replicate January success:
Sunderland would be playing Championship football if it wasn’t for Big Sam’s January dealings.
Lamine Kone, Jan Kirchhoff and Wahbi Khazri all made an instant impact bringing extra guile, power, physicality and skill to the struggling first team.
Bain will be working closely alongside Allardyce.
And if the pair can replicate some of the success from January, then Sunderland could finally break their annual cycle of being relegation fodder.
Provide strong leadership to help break the annual cycle of relegation battles:
Allardyce is tasked with getting performances on the pitch right, with Bain focused towards ensuring the club is run smoothly off it.
But the two go hand in hand. And Bain will play a key role in trying to ensure Sunderland AFC can finally fulfil its potential and move up the table.
Smart decisions off the pitch around recruitment, avoiding a conveyor belt of managers and getting the right characters in will reap rewards on it.
New deal for Kirchhoff and help secure Yann M’Vila signing:
Kirchhoff was arguably the pick of the January crop, the versatile German an absolute steal at just £750,000.
But Kirchhoff only signed an 18-month deal. Securing his long-term future is key.
Sunderland, meanwhile, only paid a percentage of M’Vila’s lucrative deal with Kazan and he has previously been on the radar of Premier League heavyweights Liverpool and Arsenal.
The club has an option to buy him and while Bain won’t be in his new role until July, they cannot delay in making his loan spell a permanent one.
Open up communication channels:
One of Margaret Byrne’s biggest failings was the lack of communication.
Byrne kept a very low public profile and hadn’t done an on-the-record interview with the Echo since Martin O’Neill was at the helm.
Now that Byrne’s five-year tenure is over, it is up to Bain to provide a clear strategy moving forward. And communicating more is key.
Bain, who has an impressive track record at Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv and former club Rangers, needs to lead from the front.
Sunderland AFC has huge potential. Help realise it:
The club does a lot of good work in and around the City, and the fan base is phenomenal, with more than 47,000 fans attending the final two home games.
The club’s potential is massive. This is a chance for a fresh start.
As well as sorting out the finances and providing a clear strategy moving forward, Bain must also build on the good work being done off the pitch.