Sunderland plan to replace '˜pink' Stadium of Light seats is a hit with fans

A lifelong Black Cats fan has called off his petition to get faded 'pink' seats at the Stadium of Light replaced after club bosses announced new improvements to the ground.

Monday, 8th August 2016, 5:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th August 2016, 7:24 am
SAFC fan James Smallwood has created an online petition to change the faded stadium seats

Club officials say fans will see changes at the Monkwearmouth site as the club enters its 20th season there, including the replacement of the sun-bleached seats.

Officially opened in 1997, the stadium replaced the club’s former home of Roker Park.

SAFC fan James Smallwood has created an online petition to change the faded stadium seats

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When the now 48,000 capacity ground was opened, most seats were bright red in honour of the club’s traditional colours.

However, many of them, particularly those in certain sections of the North and East areas of the stadium, now have a faded look having not been replaced for almost two decades and constantly in view of sunlight.

In May this year the Echo reported how devoted supporter James Smallwood, 31, had set up a petition on the website as well as a Facebook page calling on chiefs to replace the tired-looking chairs with bright red new ones.

He said he is ecstatic at the new announcement.

SAFC fan James Smallwood has created an online petition to change the faded stadium seats

“I’m absolutely over the moon and a bit gobsmacked,” said James, of Hastings Hill.

“I’ve been invited to attend the Sunderland Supporters’ Liaison Group and the group took all of my information and were ready to take my suggestions to the next board meeting.

“Hopefully the stadium will soon look as good as when it first opened.

“I just think it’s important that the club puts out a good message to the rest of the Premier League and people watching in other countries.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing things when these changes are finished.”

Explaining the improvements, SAFC chief executive Martin Bain said: “After almost 20 years, naturally some areas of the Stadium of Light are in need of a face-lift.

“It is a magnificent home for our football club and we want to ensure that it is a stadium our fans can continue to be proud of.

“The replacing of the seats will be the most visual aspect of the work we are undertaking and is something I am sure Sunderland fans will welcome.”

The stadium’s largest hospitality and function room, the Montgomery Suite, will also undergo a make-over.

Sunderland’s squad will also see a new-look tunnel as they take to the field against Middlesbrough in the opening home game of the season, with imposing life-sized graphics featuring first-team players and a nod to the mining heritage of the site, adorning the walls.

The Wear-Tees derby on Sunday, August 21 is David Moyes’ first game at the Stadium of Light since he replaced Sam Allardyce.