Upon announcing losses of £25.5million – underwritten by owner Ellis Short – Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has gone on the offensive with regard to fans who watch his club’s games in the pub or on internet streams at home.
Quinn is concerned about falling attendances this season, despite the club hovering in and around the top six.
That wasn’t in the plan when he sold the future vision of the club in 2008 to Texan billionaire Short, who has invested a further £28million of his own money into the club this season alone.
The former Black Cats striker hoped three years ago that with attendances averaging 44,000 despite the club struggling near the foot of the table, investment in the playing squad and a subsequent improvement in results would see those attendances rise to close to the capacity of 49,000, giving the club scope for further growth.
So to see all those empty seats despite Short’s heavy investment comes across as a little embarrassing to Quinn and he fears his plans will be scuppered if he can’t get more bums on seats.
But the tone of his language when criticising those stay-away fans and the degree of emotional blackmail when it comes to persuading them to return has irked many supporters and demonstrated that even nice guys like the Irishman are out of touch with the fans.
He said he ‘despised’ those stay away supporters, which is frankly ignorant of the financial pressures being felt particularly in the North-East in the current recession. Don’t forget the club have the seventh highest average attendance in the Premier League and have won nothing since 1973.
Plus there is the small matter of seeing their hard earned cash go straight into the pockets of millionaire footballers who then jump ship at the sight of a larger pay-cheque.Despite the vast TV deals the Premier League is actually a dying compeition as the title becomes increasingly the preserve of two or three clubs. Why pay hundereds of pounds for a competition you know you will never come close to winning?
There is an increasingly apathy among supporters about a game dominated by money at a time where the normal man and woman is struggling to make ends meet.
Quinn – and Premier League football club’s in general - perhaps needs to come out of their millionaire’s bubble for a minute bit of inward reflection and also a bit of empathy before they lambast fans for not sending £600 on a season ticket year upon year.