Charities approved to collect outside Sunderland's Stadium of Light

Calls to block charities from outside Sunderland collecting at SAFC games have been brushed aside due to the Black Cats’ wide supporter base of generous fans.

The Stadium of Light gates.
The Stadium of Light gates.

Schools, charities and football clubs are among those often seen with collection buckets ahead of games, with the potential to raise thousands of pounds from generous fans.

Those seeking permits for the 2019/20 season went before Sunderland City Council’s Regulatory Committee on July 1.

But it prompted Councillor Peter Gibson to suggest it had previously been agreed only Sunderland-based applicants would be given permission in future.

Jim Wotherspoon, of the city council’s legal team, responded, said “it had been mentioned before” but a decision was made based on SAFC as “the big club south of the Tyne”.

He added: “The supporters don’t just come from this council area, there’s a lot of supporters who come from Durham, or South Shields, or further afield.”

The committee accepted the reasoning, but Coun Anne Lawson questioned whether larger groups, who may use collection proceeds to fund national activities, should be granted permits.

“I’ve collected and I know how generous football supporters can be,” she said.

“There’s a lot of money to be made and when you look at some of the bigger charities they might just be seeing it as a good opportunity to collect for their national charities, rather than those supporting more localised activities.”

Before the meeting, five fixtures, against Portsmouth, Tranmere Rovers, Blackpool, Ipswich Town and Accrington Stanley, had been requested by the Foundation of Light, which were granted.

Mental health charity MIND had also asked to be allocated October’s match against Fleetwood Town to coincide with World Mental Health Day, while Veterans in Crisis opted for November’s tie with Southend United as the fixture closest to Remembrance Day, both of which were approved.

The remaining 16 games currently on the calendar with allocated by draw, with a further 10 added to a reserve list for added fixtures, such as cup games.