HUNDREDS of Black Cats fans have signed an online petition in support of controversial manager Paolo Di Canio.
The Italian has fined seven members of his squad for discipline breaches, with some of those punished complaining to the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).
Last month, defenders Phil Bardsley and Matt Kilgallon had wages docked after pictures surfaced of them in a casino in the early hours.
Another player was rapped for leaving the training ground early, while fines were dished out for those failing to turn up at an autograph session.
The petition, signed by more than 1,400 supporters, appears to back the manager’s hardline approach, and will be sent to the PFA, which is investigating the internal punishments.
Fan Gary SAFC Lamb, 53, from Seaham, was among those to support the Back Paolo Di Canio campaign via Change.org.
“I think the vast majority of fans are right behind him,” he said. “They’ve had enough of millionaire playboy footballers doing what they want.
“He was absolutely right to leave those players out of the team.
“If I turned up for work stinking of drink and hungover from the night before, I wouldn’t be fined or given a quiet word. I’d be sacked.
Gary, the honorary president of African side Sunderland AFC Keroche, said footballers should set an example.
He added: “Just one day’s pay of a premier league footballer, £5,000 or so, could fund this team for a year.
“Not all players are the same and I know some of them take their jobs and their responsibilities very seriously, but there are others who need to take a good look at themselves.”