The Red and White Army is on the march.
A new Sunderland AFC supporters’ group has been launched with the aim of strengthening the bond between club and fans.
There is a real appetite among supporters to start a dialogue with the club.Andrew Hird
More than 2,000 people signed up to the group within 12 days of its launch on social media and it was formally kicked off with a public meeting at The Peacock in Keel Square.
The group is seeking a meeting with owner Ellis Short and chief executive Martin Bain to discuss the future of the club.
Chairman Andrew Hird explained the thinking behind the new organisation: “The concept for this group came about at the end of last season,” he said.
“There is a real sense of apathy and frustration among Sunderland supporters at the moment, and that is being exacerbated by a lack of communication coming from the club.
“A few like-minded individuals came together with the idea of approaching the club to improve things.”
Andrew believes there is a real desire among fans to reinvigorate the connection between supporters and bosses at the Stadium of Light.
“Since we launched on social media platforms, we have had over 2,000 members signed up within two weeks. There is a real appetite among supporters to start a dialogue with the club,” he said.
Andrew believes his mum is typical of a growing sense of disillusionment among supporters.
“My mum is the one who got me into football - she took me to Roker Park through thick and thin,” he said.
“She has been a Sunderland supporter for 50-odd years now, she has just renewed her season ticket - but every time Saturday comes round now, does she have the desire to go?
“Families are essentially falling out of love with the club and it comes down to a lack of communication from the top.”
Addressing the audience, he said: “There is a real disconnect between the football club and its supporters.
“When relegation was confirmed, we had an e-mail from Ellis Short saying ‘I am going to tell you about my plans for next season.’ We are still waiting.
“We want to hear your views and your representations. We want to collect those views and take them to the club.”
Sunderland AFC declined to comment on the new group.