NIALL Quinn says he would be “chased out of Sunderland” if he told fans he thought the Black Cats could win the Premier League.
SAFC chairman Quinn, speaking before a Parliamentary select committee yesterday, told MPs that supporters of the Wearsiders think it is a more realistic aim to qualify for European football.
The former Republic of Ireland international striker also lambasted England’s failed bid to host the 2018 World Cup, saying it had been “drowned in arrogance”.
Agents were also a target, with Quinn saying some demaned “£250,000 for one day’s work”.
His appearance came as the Commons Culture Select Committee looks into the financial “doping “of football, whereby clubs are bought and left with huge, leveraged debts.
Quinn, who is touring venues in and around Sunderland for a series of talk-ins, gave evidence alongside Manchester United chief executive David Gill and Peter Coates chairman of Stoke City.
When MPs asked Quinn about his club’s prospects, the chairman admitted it was a “realistic target” for them to qualify for Europe.
He added that ticket pricing across the Premier League is still too high.
It comes a month after Quinn said he “despised” fans who chose to watch Black Cats home games in pubs rather than attend the Stadium of Light.
“I think we should all look for something that says: ‘How can we help this group of people out to still stay in love with the game?’, because if we send the matches abroad with empty stadiums, it’s over. The Premier League is over.
“These [people] are the lifeblood of the game. How do we protect these [people]?
“All revenue that comes in, the agents have the upper hand to squeeze it out of us.
“How can we stop that? How can we find a better way for these people to love the game?
“These are the same people who tells us to, ‘get your chequebook out’, want us to be top six.
“They’re also saying now: ‘you’re paying too much money. This is wrong’. But they’re also saying: ‘can we go to the matches a bit cheaper?’”
Quinn suggested players’ earnings could be taxed to help clubs provide less expensive tickets.
“The Inland Revenue is a big winner in this,” he said. “The Inland Revenue takes a big take of all this too.
“Could we give something back here without affecting our business going forward?
“It’s going to be suicidal for us to let them in half-price now.
“The agents will still press the crank on, the Revenue still take their take.
“Could there be a way if we tilted it back this way that would benefit them?
“That’s something I think we should all aim for.”
With the backing of American billionaire owner Ellis Short, Quinn also said that Sunderland are still ambitious, but added that talk of one day winning their first top-flight title since 1936 was still a world away.
Quinn said: “I think if I went on a fans’ forum and said that, I’d be chased out of Sunderland.
“We have to believe that we’ll make progress. We can look at playing European football at the Stadium of Light.
“That has to be the next realistic target for us now.”