Wear staying up! MPs and civic leaders hail SAFC victory

MPs and civic leaders have saluted SAFC after the club won its Premier League survival scrap.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 4:01 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 5:06 pm
Vito Mannone savours SAFC's victory

The 3-0 victory over Everton at the Stadium of Light preserved the Black Cats' top-flight status and ensured arch-rivals Newcastle United were relegated in the process.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott followed Wednesday night’s match online.

"I am delighted for the fans, the players and the club as a whole that Sunderland are staying up," she said.

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"It is great news for the city - the club being in the Premier League is really important for the economic health and profile of the city."

Her Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson said she was delighted to see Sunderland retain their seat at football’s top table.

"It has been a difficult season for Sunderland but they’ve been able to turn it around, and I couldn’t be happier to see them staying up in the Premier League," she said.

"I hope players, fans and staff at the Stadium of Light enjoy celebrating this good news here on Wearside."

Sunderland City Council deputy leader Coun Harry Trueman said: "I know a lot of people are feeling a genuine sense of relief and, of course, joy about keeping Premier League status.

"While we can look forward to local derbies with Middlesbrough next year, commiserations to Newcastle United and their fans.

"Let’s hope Sunderland AFC can offer us some more joy in the future."

Conservative group leader Coun Peter Wood and his St Michael’s ward colleague Coun Michael Dixon were at the Stadium of Light for Wednesday night’s match.

"Michael and I between us have about 100 years’ experience of watching Sunderland," said Coun Wood.

"Retaining Premier League status is very important for the city’s profile, for marketing the city and promoting business opportunities.

"We need to maximise the potential of the city, to boost the economy of the city, and being in the Premier League just helps so much more. You are promoting a successful place and that makes quite a big difference."

The feel-good factor of securing top flight status was also important, said Coun Wood: "It does make people feel happier and more optimistic," he said.

"People have a spring in their step."

Business leaders also welcomed another season of top flight football.

Natalie Bland is marketing manager with city-based Station Taxis. The firm has a very special connection to this year’s Premier League campaign.

"We sponsor Jermain Defoe, so we have all been rooting for him and he has performed really well," she said.

From a business standpoint, Premier League status was vital. "We are part of the Sunderland Business Group with the council and the university and we were discussing this at our last meeting," said Natalie.

"Being in the Premier League is really important for the city from an economic point of view, but it is also really important for the spirit of the people of Sunderland.

"From a business point of view, it is definitely something that matters."