If ever it was needed reminding then the final league positions, and Championship play-off outcomes, demonstrated clearly the ever-increasing gulf between England's top two tiers.

Only Ipswich Town - ably steered by Kieran McKenna - arrested the possibility of a super six, where three recently promoted sides to the Premier League are relegated and those who descended this time last year were able to reclaim their place at the top table. 

Without perusing the history books I don't know if this has transpired before but I am a sufficient student to know it hasn't happened of late. Not even the financial mismanagement alleged of Everton and Nottingham Forest, and the consequent points deductions, could save Luton Town, Burnley and Sheffield United from falling. 

And, when it came to it, Leeds United and Southampton were able to coast through their respective play off semi-finals to set up a meeting at Wembley to secure the vast riches on offer next season. 


SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE: Win a pair of Black Cats Bar season tickets for Sunderland's 2024/25 campaign


For Sunderland, and others, this should be a concern. 

Not inasmuch as any challenge for promotion, certainly a play off-position, but in endeavouring to understand just what may be required if the aspiration of competing with the best is realised any time soon. 

Forest, promoted in 2022, went all in. They realised the enormity of what confronted them and opted for a squad overhaul, breaking transfer record after transfer record in one summer to give themselves a glimmer of hope it would pay dividends. While they no doubt appreciated the efforts of those who reached the promised land, many of them had such gratitude expressed alongside being, effectively, told they could not cut it in such illustrious company. They, Forest, gambled and would argue their survival over both seasons has seen such expenditure having been vindicated. 

We Are Sunderland: Sunderland were beaten by Luton Town in last season's play-offs as the Hatters went on to secure promotion to the Premier League but Rob Edwards' side have been relegated back to the ChampionshipSunderland were beaten by Luton Town in last season's play-offs as the Hatters went on to secure promotion to the Premier League but Rob Edwards' side have been relegated back to the Championship (Image: Ian Horrocks)

Although this may seem a discussion or debate for another day, it is clear that the chasm in monies and standard is evident and the parachute payments, that have long since fallen for Sunderland, can be used, even in advance, for those who know it is coming. 

Reaching the apex of the national game is one thing. Ensuring a sustainable seat at the top table another. 

In getting to the top Burnley and Sheffield United accumulated just two wins and a draw short of 200 points. In the season just concluded they, along with Luton, amassed a total of 66.




The senior figures at Sunderland can't merely think of creating a side to be Championship contenders. There has to be contemplation as to how they become a Premier club with solid foundations and that goes beyond recruitment and data. 

If that is not sufficient to acknowledge the potential repercussions in a prolonged absence from the rewards of top league football then the club may wish to embark upon some research in the city and immediate environs in order to assess the football allegiance of the generation alphas, the demographic born from 2010 onwards. In fact, the signs amongst the late GenZ is not exactly a comfort. 

More on that to come.