SUNDERLAND will look again at ways of inviting supporters back to the club’s training ground in the future.
The Academy of Light has been a closed facility since a fan tried to sue for being hit by a stray football last season.
But the club has admitted not having supporters watching the team train remains a thorny issue.
And with chairman Niall Quinn recognising the problem that players and supporters are not as close as they once were, he is backing plans to look at re-opening sessions again.
Quinn said: “We had several problems with open training sessions.
“As soon as something happened, everyone was Twittering and the world knew about it.
“It was a problem if there was an injury and it was a problem if word was getting out about how we set up for free-kicks or set-pieces.
“And there was also the issue of potentially having a training ground bust-up witnessed.
“Those sort of things happen at every club from time.
“And I’ll be honest, that was on my mind.
“There are health and safety issues too – that the Academy’s not geared up for it.
“A fan was hit in the face and the club was sued and ended up with a settlement – that wasn’t good.
“But it is something we are considering because we want to encourage fans and players to reconnect.”
Chief executive Steve Walton, who is looking into the situation, said: “We do have issues with it, particularly with health and safety, but there could be other options further down the line.
“We might look to create a show pitch in years to come which could give us a long-term solution.
“But we are also looking at having fans being able to watch the players at the stadium when they train there.
“There are no health and safety issues at the Stadium of Light.
“It’s set up for that, so that’s an option when the bad weather comes in or the manager decides he wants to train on the home pitch.
“It is something we are taking on board, though, and will look to find a couple of ways forward.”