RR: So... Jim Rodwell. What do you think about his appointment as CEO of Sunderland?
He’s got plenty of experience in football, having been CEO of multiple clubs and a representative for League One. He’s a big personality with a lot of good footballing relationships at all levels of the game. Although he wasn’t particularly popular at Notts County, personally I think he can be an asset to Sunderland if the fans give him a chance.
RR: Rodwell was appointed as Notts County CEO back in 2010. Do you think he was successful in his role?
His arrival wasn’t exactly met with positivity due to his links with Boston United and Steve Evans. I don’t think a lot of fans ever got over his past.
However, we started in League Two and got promoted as champions shortly after his arrival and appointment of Steve Cotterill as manager. We were still in League One when he left and we’d love to be there now rather than the National League. In hindsight, there were a lot of good times during his spell with a play-off push under Keith Curle and avoiding certain relegations with ‘Great Escapes’ under Martin Allen and Shaun Derry.
Though the latter two did come on the back of some bad appointments that put us in those situations so I guess you can say it was a mixed bag!
RR: What sort of CEO is he? Is he hands on, or does he largely lurk in the background?
He was pretty public facing at Notts. Every time we’d do a fans forum, people would come away positively - helped by Jim’s charm. However, that was often forgotten by the next loss. He handles difficult public situations well and can make you feel positive even if things aren’t going great - at least in the short term.
Our chairman at the time, Ray Trew, was very driven with lots of ideas and I think Jim was a good filter on those a lot of the time.
RR: The Scunthorpe, County and Boston fans on social media didn’t seem particularly sad to see Rodwell go - why do you think that is?
I think his links with Boston United and what went on there stuck in the minds of our fans. I think if he didn’t have that in his past, he would’ve been remembered a lot more positively, perhaps? My view is probably a lot different from the majority of fans as I knew him from working at the club in the media department.
RR: What is he like as a person?
Jim is a funny guy and was an energetic figure around the club. He’s very invested in the football side of operations more-so that the operational side of things but that’s where is biggest strengths lie, I feel.
I like Jim and always got on with him, but you may get different answers from a lot of fans who never seemed as keen and saw him as arrogant, rather than confident.
RR: What is your lasting impression of Rodwell and the job he did for your club?
We managed to bring in some high-profile players and he always seemed to have a good relationship with agents. Although he was probably looked at negatively for his time at Notts, after his departure there seemed to be a lack of filter on footballing decisions and we seemed to go backwards as a club.
Ultimately, after his departure, we sacked a manager in Shaun Derry who had rescued us from certain relegation the season prior and quite possibly would’ve kept us in League One if he’d been given the rest of the campaign. I’m pretty sure Jim held that opinion, too.
Derry was replaced with a gamble appointment in Ricardo Moniz which certainly didn’t pay off and we were relegated to League Two. Saying that, you can argue that we did sack a lot of managers too quickly during Jim’s time at the club anyway, so it could easily have happened regardless.
RR: Sunderland fans - myself included - have been asking for a long time to have someone in charge of the club day to day. How do you think he’ll handle the step up to running a bigger club?
Jim’s an intelligent guy and knows the football business very well. He’s been a CEO for a long time, as well as a league rep, so he’ll know what’s what on football and operational levels. He has a lot of contacts within the game and I’m sure he’ll take the role in his stride.
RR: There are some Sunderland fans who are unconvinced by this appointment - what would you say to anyone who isn’t sure about Rodwell coming to our club?
You’ll probably have concerns like Notts and Scunthorpe fans did. But, he’s been in the game a long time and you’ve got to have faith that he can have a positive impact. I suppose it’s like when you get a signing from a lower league - there are reservations but it’s nice when they prove you wrong - you’ve just got to give them a chance.