Daily Poll 28-2-11

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Do you watch Sunderland’s home games in the pub?

THE CITY’S biggest pub owner has backed Black Cats’ chairman Niall Quinn’s attack on stay-away fans.

Tony Griffiths, who together with business partner Eric Robson owns seven pubs and clubs in Sunderland, says he will no longer show SAFC home games on foreign satellites.

Chairman Quinn caused controversy earlier this month by saying he “despises” supporters who watch games in bars rather than visit the Stadium of Light.

He later admitted that his tone may have been too strong but argued that he wanted to provoke a serious discussion on the issue - and did so.

Mr Griffiths, managing director of Wylam Leisure, said while the move could cost him financially, he is determined to do his bit to “support the club”.

He said: “Niall thinks it’s a major problem (that fans watch home matches on television in pubs on foreign satellites) and I think everybody should support him in what he’s trying to do.

“From my point of view, if 10 per cent of people go into the city after the game, it makes a big difference when there are 45,000 rather than 25,000.”

“I could have my pubs full (with home game screenings) but if that creates a problem, we are prepared to take a hit.”

Mr Griffiths, whose firm owns Paddywhacks, Cheers, Ttonic, The Queen Vic, and the Pullman Lodge, said his decision to back Quinn is one he thinks is worth taking as, in his opinion, the move is for the greater good of the city.

He said: “This isn’t about money. People misunderstood the point Niall was making.

“He said when he despises them (fans who watch games in the pub and stay away from the ground), that he disagrees with the people who can afford tickets but who still decide to watch the match in the pub and stay away from the stadium.

“He is trying to sell the club globally - and with that in mind we all want a full house every game.”

Quinn praised Mr Griffiths for backing his stance.

He said: “I’d just like to give Tony a big pat on the back, this is a massive help for the football club.

“This is not a matter of waging war on the pubs and clubs - we just want to ensure for that 90-minute spell that they’re not showing our games.

“It’s a really encouraging sign and makes me feel good about what needs to happen.”

And now, Quinn says he hopes other premises across the city will follow suit.

He said: “What Tony is doing is hugely encouraging - but we’re not at war with the others.

“We help bring people into the city through our games and now from the gigs that we are hosting at the stadium.

“We certainly think that bringing so many people into the city with the summer gigs will be great for businesses in Sunderland and across the region.”