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Sunderland fans tell Taxpayers' Alliance to 'get a life' after group criticised £4,500 reception for SAFC 1973 FA Cup heroes

Echo readers have told a pressure group to ‘get a life’ after it questioned the £4,500 spent on a reception for Sunderland AFC’s 1973 FA Cup heroes.

Saturday, 14th May 2022, 10:43 am

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And to mark the occasion, the authority held a special reception to confer the honour to the players, which it said was “richly deserved”.

Sunderland AFC 1973 FA Cup squad receive the Freedom of the City.

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The spend was robustly defended by Sunderland City Council, with leader Graeme Miller responding: “It’s disappointing that an event to celebrate these men, and a buffet put on for invited guests of all backgrounds, would be scrutinised in this way and used – ironically - as a political football.”

Now Echo readers have also rounded on The Taxpayers’ Alliance for its criticism of the cost.

The pressure group claims to be ‘Britain's independent grassroots campaign for lower taxes’ and, in the past at least, has described itself as ‘non-partisan’ – though some question where its allegiances lie.

Hitting out on the Echo’s Facebook page, Barry Holder said: “This was the best thing to happen to Sunderland in decades. The Taxpayers’ Alliance needs to get a life.”

Members of the Sunderland AFC 1973 FA Cup squad receive the Freedom of the City.

Wilf Flynn added: “The unelected TaxPayers’ Alliance telling elected councillors how to spend money.”

Neil Martin said: “Right-wingers again knowing the cost of everything and the value of nowt.”

Jackie Walton said: “Miserable bunch. Got to try and spoil things for everyone.”

Neil Burke-Thompson said: “Well worth the money.”

John Harvey said the financial benefits of Sunderland AFC’s successes was of huge economic benefit to the city, so the cost of the celebration was worth the spend.

He said: “Anyone that disagrees with this has totally lost it (being polite). The revenue this brought to the town far outlays the cost.”

Dick Dodds: “They (the council) shouldn’t have to defend the money spent. Well earned and well deserved.”

Steve Downing said: “They (the players) deserve it so them people who are complaining can go and do one. Shipyards are gone, pits are gone so we only have SAFC and now they want to take that, those players deserve the recognition for what they achieved.”

Thomas Newton said: “Our footballing legends deserve every bit of recognition for their achievements in the FA cup.”

The final breakdown of costs for the evening, revealed in a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, included:

:: £3,257.20 on a buffet

:: £817.95 on wine

:: £64 on tea and coffee

:: £42.50 on glassware

:: £350 on staffing

According to the council, 132 people attended the event, 45 were city councillors, with the remainder former players from the side and their guests, giving a final cost of about £34 per head.

Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, had said: "Taxpayers in Sunderland will be wondering whether this is really the best use of their money.”

While the vast majority of comments were entirely in support of the spending on the event, John Redman did have some concerns about the guest list.

"The only concern I have is why were 46 councillors invited,” he said.

"Over a third were councillors. I would have thought the mayor, leader, and deputy leader along with the leader of the opposition would have been sufficient.

"The places ‘freed up’ could have been to the extended family and hierarchy of the players and SAFC?”

Some readers replied in agreement.