SAFC 10 YEARS AGO: Tickets going up, Nyron says he might be a centre-half after all!

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Here’s what the Echo was reporting on Sunderland 10 years ago.

TICKET PRICES GOING UP

Quinn: We have to compete with the best

SUNDERLAND season ticket prices for next season are set to rise by an average of between seven and 10 per cent.

The club announced that it would be making the increases for the 2007-08 season to increase the Black Cats’ ability to compete with leading sides across the country.

Chairman Niall Quinn said: “We are ever-conscious of keeping football at Sunderland affordable.

“But keeping pace with other clubs and driving our club forward is not easy when prices have been frozen for so many seasons.

“Our operating costs have increased year on year, yet our income has effectively decreased.

“I feel that the new season’s prices are fair and strike a good balance between bringing in the revenue we need to progress and remaining at a level that supporters can afford and I hope our fans agree with me.”

It is the first price rise at Championship level in seven years.

Prices were raised by 10 per cent in the summer that Mick McCarthy won promotion to the Premiership but they were rolled back to their previous Championship pegging in the wake of last season’s disastrous relegation.

The new prices announced today are guaranteed up until April 5, at which point further rises could be announced and the club is hoping fans will take advantage of incentives to buy early.

Existing season ticket holders who renew their seat or any supporters wishing to purchase a seat will be able to do so at the new prices regardless of the club’s divisional status next season, providing they do so by April 5, 2007.

Quinn is acutely aware of the need not to ask too much of supporters pockets in an area where unemployment remains high and many fans are in relatively low wages.

And in order to ensure payment does not place too much of an immediate financial burden on households, fans will be able to spread the payments under an interest-free payment scheme.

The club has experiments with this in the past but previously spread payments over the three summer months leading up to the season’s start.

NYRON GETTING USED TO LIFE IN THE MIDDLE:

NYRON Nosworthy is slowly coming around to the conclusion that he might be a centre-half after all!

And he hopes to take a further step forward in his new role by helping Sunderland to their fifth clean sheet in a row in tonight’s game against Birmingham.

The 26-year-old has been a revelation at centre-half and his game against Southend United was possibly his best performance so far in that position.

He said: “I was pleased with the way I played on Saturday and I have to say that I am definitely enjoying playing there now. It’s obviously still new to me but I ma just concentrating on trying to do the simple things right.

“On Saturday I was up against Freddie Eastwood and we all know what a good striker he is.

“But I think it brought the best out of me, made me concentrate even harder because I wanted to do my best against him. I was very happy to have kept him quiet.”

Nosworthy’s form has been such that he has kept vastly experienced central defenders Stan Varga and Kenny Cunningham out of the side, while fellow centre-half Danny Collins has been asked to continue at left-back.

The ex-Gillingham man has been helped settle in the role by defensive partner Jonny Evans and says he has enjoyed playing alongside the loanee Manchester United defender.

He said: “Jonny is a very young man who plays the game as though he’s been playing league football for years and years. He’s got a great head on his shoulders for someone who is just starting out in the game and I wish I had been so mature and confident in games when I was his age.

“We seem to play well together and that’s been a help because obviously I’m not that experienced at centre half.

“I’ve started to watch more how other central defenders play in training and I look at that position when I’m watching games now to see if there’s anything I can pick up. But I have to say that the job has been made easier for me by how hard everyone is working around me. Everyone seems to be working for each other at the moment.

“That’s so important to have in any side and we’ll need that against Birmingham City tonight because it will be tough for us there. Every game is another test for all of us but all I’ll be thinking of this evening will be helping us to keep another clean sheet.”