Skip to content


The word ambition means different things to different people and time is relative, when you mix those things with passion it’s unsurprising that football fans can never agree. Some think success should be done in a season no matter the financial implications, others want a more cautious approach and talk of 5-year plans. But one thing all Sunderland fans agree on is that the Premier League is the next step.

The five-year plan gets mentioned a lot by Black Cats supporters. It’s cited by fans calling for patience, and used by fans ridiculing the owners lack of ambition, but where did it come from? That’s a question I’ve explored, and I can tell you.

As with any question in the age of the internet, Google was a jumping off point. A quick search revealed multiple forum and social media threads of fans arguing about the plan, and an article about the club’s ambition to be energy-self-sufficient from renewable sources by 2028. So, Google was no help. Next, I turned to the fans. I asked supporters I know, posted on social media and in fan forums. Some thought it went back to when Donald owned the club, some were sure it was mentioned in a Speakman interview and others were convinced it was created in some kind of fan fiction. Then I hit on something more concrete, a fan posted an article from the Sunderland Echo back in May 2023, which looked at some end of year account documents from the 21/22 season which they quoted as saying, “The next season is a period of consolidation as the club adapts to the second tier, but in doing so a proactive improvement program has been planned and is integral to the future success of the club. It remains the club’s ambition to return to the Premier League within five years since acquiring control. Following the recent promotion, the club are on track to achieve this.”

This tells us that the five-year plan started when the new owners took over the club in 2021. That makes the upcoming season the fourth year of the five. Based on where the club was when the current ownership came in, I’d say that’s an ambitious plan. However, as with any business, these things tend to be more nuanced and many factors can change things, such as changing of managers, injuries to players, financial fair play and even things like economic stability. We as fans give this five-year plan a lot of weight, but like all plans, it’s fluid and can change based on what’s happening at the club. Last season the board got it wrong, and we probably took a step backwards – we can all see that – but this season they may get things right and the plan could jump ahead two years.

I believe that the ownership at Sunderland is young and has been a little naive at times, but are trying to be realistically ambitious and set the club up in a way that that’s sustainable, therefore ensuring the club is here for future generations to love. However, if you think we’re not being ambitious enough, I respect that opinion. As with a lot of things in football the answer is probably somewhere in the middle. As fans all we can do is be optimistic. Pack the stadium and not worry so much about some lines in some accounts from three years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *