AS Sunderland’s players trudged around the Stadium of Light on Saturday to partake in the obligatory ‘lap of appreciation’ in front of masses of empty seats, you must hope that it served as a powerful message to those running the club.

Sunderland were comfortably beaten by a Sheffield Wednesday side that spent nearly the entirety of the season in the bottom three of the Championship, yet finished three points behind the Black Cats.

It brought a dismal season to an end. The half-hearted appreciation ceremony after the game was witnessed by precious few. Most supporters had taken their leave before full-time, and a handful had seen enough before half-time.

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In the directors’ box, way up in the top tier of the Stadium of Light’s West Stand, there were also empty seats. Namely the seat normally held by club chairman and owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.

Well, the Miami Grand Prix was a big deal after all. Definitely not one to miss!

I don’t blame him, to be honest. I’d have rather been anywhere else on Saturday lunchtime as we dialled in a frankly disgraceful performance.

But hopefully Louis-Dreyfus saw the game. And hopefully he has paid attention to the club’s disastrous run of results under stand-in manager Mike Dodds.

Because the club need to act, and act quickly.

We Are Sunderland: Mike Dodds and Sunderland players on a lap of appreciation after defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on the final game of the campaign.Mike Dodds and Sunderland players on a lap of appreciation after defeat to Sheffield Wednesday on the final game of the campaign. (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Getting a head coach is not only top of the list now, it should have been top of the list for the last three months. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer.

We’ve finished the season a fortnight earlier than we did last year, so we should use those precious days to finalise plans for next season. Targets, budgets, the lot.

Those running the club have seen that if they stand still like they have this season, you go backwards. This should be the lowest point of Louis-Dreyfus’s ownership of the club.

Learn the lessons and move on quickly. If we don’t do that, then next season will be another slog.

MUCH has been said about Leo Pearlman’s social media post over the weekend, where he speaks of reclaiming a sense of identity and pride as a club.

The Fulwell 73 supremo, who holds a non-executive role on the club’s board, said: “The need to own and celebrate our identity is on all of us.

“It’s on the club’s owners and board to recognise and exemplify, it’s on the players to demonstrate every single time they walk out on the pitch, regardless of what’s to play for, it’s on the manager to understand and deliver upon and it’s on us, the fans, in the way we show our support.”

He begins the post, shared on LinkedIn with ‘Writing as a fan and nothing more’ – which is his way of saying ‘I have no actual say here’.

I get the sentiment. But to even stray near to suggesting that the fans can play some kind of part in this is foolhardy. We’ve played our part. We’ve paid our part.

Don’t forget, outside of the Premier League, the single biggest revenue stream for a football club is its fanbase. And with average attendances in the 41,000 range, we’ve supported the club handsomely.

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The thing that will get the fans excited again is what happens on the pitch. And we have zero influence over that, clearly.

So what power does a non-exec director hold? Can they influence the thoughts of the decision makers at the club, or does it merely amount to a free season ticket in the directors’ box?

If it’s the former, then say what you said in that social post to them – you have the platform. We don't.