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Securing our Future: THREE things that Sunderland's new owners must make a priority

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The Ellis Short era is now surely coming to an end, but what do the new owners need to do? I have compiled a to-do list for the new owners when they pick up the keys to the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland v Hull City - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

1. Improve the rapport between the fans and the club

The first thing that drastically needs to be improved is Sunderland's communication and relationship with the supporters and the media.

When Niall Quinn headed a consortium ten years ago the most important thing he brought upon his arrival as Chairman was his affable persona, which resonated with the supporters. The fans felt like he was on their side and wanted the best for them.

It is of paramount importance - silence is deadly and the private nature of Ellis Short's relationship with the football club has certainly contributed to his downfall.

For too long now we've been used to the people in charge shying away from the spotlight. The new owners need to have a responsible figurehead in place - someone that the fans can relate to. And, on top of that, they'll need to deliver a message to the fans that is realistic and clear.


2. Have a clear plan for Sunderland's academy & player development

We live in a world of Financial Fair Play whereby it is unwise for us to go down the route of Aston Villa's Chairman Tony Xia, for example, operating at the brink of the regulations. Our new owners need to be clever about their financial spend, simply because the regulations of the league dictate that we do so.

One of the more annoying aspects of being a Sunderland fan is that the production line of talent coming out of the Academy of Light is barely existent.

Why is it that, despite boasting such superb facilities, Sunderland has a somewhat disappointing turnover of players from our youth system in to the first team?

The Academy Of Light should be a factory of first teamers...

Jordan Pickford, Jordan Henderson and Jack Colback aside, we very rarely produce talented, first-team ready footballers. Often our youngsters are left to languish in our U23s before they are released, the majority of whom end up playing outside of the Football League.

If you look down the food chain there's a smattering of former Sunderland academy players within League 1 &2, and you have to wonder whether or not something down the line was missed when it came to their nurturing as a footballer.

In order for a young player to improve and become more ready for the rigours of first team football they must first gain valuable experience away from the club at a decent level. Though it may seem easier said than done, far more focus needs to be placed on having a structure that aids us in finding suitable clubs at a suitable level for these players to improve with.

Investing in a better development structure could be the difference between a young player being eventually sold for big money and their talent being criminally wasted, or worse - that player moving on elsewhere and becoming a big money asset to another club.


3. Develop a secure and viable recruitment strategy

The new owners need to come up with an appropriate plan of how this club should operate and stick with it.

Ellis Short has flip-flopped so much in recent years on his idea of what Sunderland should be that we have now completely lost our true identity. Once a proud and clear representation of the fans that support the club, Sunderland have been left badly damaged by a series of awful managerial appointments and a nonsensical approach to player recruitment.

Most supporters are at the stage where they just want to see players and managers here that are desperate to succeed, and recognise how huge an opportunity they have when playing for a club of our stature and size.

And it's not necessarily the next managerial appointment or next player signing that is most important - it's about having a strategy in place that ensures we are able to deal with whatever is thrown at us. Southampton are perhaps the most blatant example of how this works but it's clear we need to develop our own process for dealing with managers and players leaving.

Re-establish Sunderland's identity as a club that represents the fans both on and off the pitch and ensure that we recruit managers and players that suit the way we operate. And, when they eventually leave, have a structure in place that means we can deal with such losses with minimal impact to the operation of the football club. It's perhaps not as simple as it sounds but as better-ran clubs in the Premier League have shown time and time again, it's certainly achievable given the correct level of focus and investment.