Letters, Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Have your say

Fans’ reaction to Quinn’s comments

MICK Brown (Echo Letters) was correct to praise the excellent progress of SAFC under the stewardship of Messrs Quinn and Short, but way off the mark when comparing and criticising Sunderland’s current attendances in comparison with Newcastle, Arsenal and Man City.

Firstly, Newcastle fans still have memory banks full of comparatively recent trips to Barcelona, Rotterdam and Milan, of second-place Premiership finishes and cup final appearances and of a plethora of top-quality signings – Shearer, Ginola, Beardsley, Ferdinand, Asprilla etc. They have enjoyed far more years in the Premiership than Sunderland and have never suffered as many relegations or indeed any scarring 15- and 19-point seasons.

This current season is the last of the three-year season tickets thousands of Mags bought when Keegan returned before spitting his dummy out one again. At times this season there has only been a few thousand difference between our respective gates.

Arsenal play in one of the world’s richest, most highly populated areas and have had waves of great players, title wins and cup final appearances under the stable rule of a very good, if not particularly pleasant manager.

Man City are now bankrolled by a faceless Arab who fancied a football club and has as much affinity to the Eastlands club as Gary Neville or Sir Alex Ferguson. City’s crowds are not a million miles from ours and on an equal playing field our support is better.

Sunderland are a work in progress and we all appreciate the far higher standard of player we now bring in. People will return in their numbers if our development continues, but after those 15- and 19-point seasons the cynics want conclusive proof that the tide has turned on a consistent basis.

The ease with which fans nationwide can now access live football will have to be addressed by the game as a whole, as it is not just problematic on Wearside, especially as the recession bites.

There is also the problem of disenfranchisement when many players earn more in a week than most fans do over several years. More money in the game than ever is going straight into players’ pockets, not on ticket price reductions.

In general terms, however, Sunderland fans owe Quinny for the way he has turned the club around in a pretty short time span, and although he is well remunerated for his efforts as chairman, his interest in SAFC is genuine, which can be said about few club figureheads these days.

Watching the Lads in the pub does not help the team one iota. If you can afford it, get to the SoL.

Tom Lynn

AS a season ticket holder and supporter of Sunderland AFC, I am shocked and extremely disappointed at the reaction to Niall Quinn’s comments towards fans watching home games in pubs and not attending the matches.

Mr Quinn has a right to question the actions of these supporters and a right to voice his opinion on this situation. Since Mr Quinn has come back to this club we have won promotion in the first season, had four consecutive seasons in the Premier League, soon to be five, and each season has seen a progression in where we have finished. He has broken the transfer record on numerous occasions and appointed Steve Bruce who has established a young and rapidly improving team, one which could lead Sunderland into Europe next season.

If finances are the real and genuine reason why supporters can’t make the game then we all understand, but to blame it on over-paid footballers, selling the best players and not signing decent players then these supporters are in denial and they just trying to convince themselves that this is the reason for not attending.

Come everyone, get down to the stadium and buy a ticket and really support the Lads. If you know a season ticket holder they can get two tickets for £10 each for the Liverpool game, so there are no excuses.

S. Purvis

I WAS so incensed by the letters attacking Niall Quinn.

Has no one any memory of what Sunderland AFC’s situation was before he came and lifted us out of the doldrums – not to mention bringing in our benefactor, Ellis Short?

J. Fisher, Raleigh Road, Red House, Sunderland

FURTHER to recent letters re SAFC, a great deal of credit must go to Niall Quinn for what he had done for this City.

There are a number of basic problems that face the club due to reduced crowd numbers such as “catchment” areas for Newcastle United FC are roughly twice that of SAFC, publicity by the TV stations based in Newcastle, more press coverage from Tyne-based publications.

The problems with differences in crowd numbers is not just the present as it was similar during the 1940s and 50s. During one good season for both clubs, NUFCs average home game crowd was about 55,000 and SAFC’s was about 48,000

Maybe these differences would be less if we had better coverage for SAFC in the press and TV.

This might happen if the presence of David Milliband on the board would has political influence on creating more jobs on Wearside etc and more money available.

There are rumours of having a TV station on Wearside. Meanwhile, stick with us, Niall.

R. Laidler, Deepdene Grove, Seaburn

ONCE again we get people – I won’t call them supporters – denigrating our fantastic chairman Niall Quinn for having the temerity to criticise people who call themselves supporters but would rather watch Sunderland home games in the pub than support the team at the Stadium of Light.

Unfortunately, Mr Quinn being relatively new to the area and not imbued in its culture has yet to grasp the fact that there are a lot of people in Sunderland and the surrounding areas who expect something for nothing.

That is the only conclusion one can draw from some of the letters published in the Echo.

The fact is that the very same moaning minnies who are taking offence at Mr Quinn’s words would be the same ones who would be the first to complain if Mr Short stopped buying good players and the club starting slipping down the league. It’s the easiest thing in the world to expect somebody else to spend millions, while not contributing anything yourself.

I can only hope that Mr Quinn and Mr Short will recognise that these people are not representative of most people in the area, who appreciate the work that they have done to ressurect the club, which only five years ago was bottom of the Coca Cola.

I am tempted to say get yourselves to the Stadium of Light, but with attitudes like yours I suspect the club will be a more cheeful place without you.

R. Scott

I COULD go mad when reading about Quinn moaning at pubs showing football and patrons not supporting the Stadium.

What can you expect when these footballers are paid so much when our lads can only sit in a pub, sometimes with one drink to all the match?

Pay these players less and make it cheaper to get to the stadium instead of moaning about the people who work hard for their living these days.

Moaner June, Houghhton

WILL the Echo please stop printing letters criticising Niall Quinn from Newcastle fans pretending to be Sunderland folk?

No genuine Sunderland supporter could possibly feel anything but respect and affection for Niall – a man who gave his all on the pitch, funded the building of the Children’s Centre on Kayll Road from the proceeds of his testimonial game and came out of a comfortable retirement to rescue a club headed for financial oblivion and the lower leagues.

What that lot up the road wouldn’t give for a chairman that actually gives a damn about the club, its supporters and the city. Keep up the good work, Niall. These idiots on the Letters Page speak for no one in Sunderland.

L. Sheils, Hallgarth Manor Farm, Pittington

AS a long-term season card holder I think I have the answer to the attending stadium/pub dilemma.

When I go to the next game I shall encourage everyone who sits around me to stop attending. They in turn can do the same until nobody actually goes to the game. The same for club merchandise.

This way the club will be starved of funds and cease to exist, thus removing all debate about the rights and wrongs of watching in pubs. There will be no team to watch either in the pub or stadium.

Devastatingly simple, eh!

Ex-Pub Goer

I WAS amazed and entirely taken aback by Niall Quinn’s comments in the Echo regarding people watching Sunderland’s games in pubs rather than going to the Stadium of Light.

I am an admirer of Mr Quinn for his career playing for the club and ploughing in his own money to further the aspirations of the football club and all his charity work, but with the economic situation as it is how can he expect jobless people in this town to pay the exorbitant entrance fee to grace the terraces with their feet?

It would be okay if we were getting the wages of the players.

I supported Sunderland AFC by attending Roker Park when I was a young ’un and even then the team’s wages were, to me, astronomical – £150 quid a week?

Harking back to Mr Quinn, as the fellow said of the 40-stone Sumo wrestler “He’s got some cheek, hasn’t he?”

A. E. Steel, Phoenix Road, Sunderland

IN all honesty does Niall Quinn really think that most Sunderland supporters can afford to go to a home match whenever they want to see a game? I can see the appeal of opting for watching it in a pub rather than getting on an overcrowded Metro, or bus, to every home game.

 I also don’t know what maths he is using to suggest that the average pub goer could afford to go to the Stadium of Light.

If you want money from people who want to watch Sunderland home games at the pub, or even at home, then why not push for an agreement to have them broadcast in the UK? I really don’t understand how there are TV cameras in the Stadium of Light, but that it is only broadcast live to foreign channels, with TV in the UK only getting the highlights.

We can’t all afford a home season ticket, Niall.

Andrew Gray, Washington

NIALL Quinn, a millionaire thanks largely to the loyalty and generosity of Sunderland supporters, should tread very warily before choosing to bite the hand that feeds him.

His outburst last week over fans who prefer to watch bootleg television transmissions of matches in pubs rather than stump up the entrance fee to the Stadium of Light upset many die-hard followers.

Many of them lost a lot of money after backing the club’s ill-fated share issue, eventually being compulsorily bought out by an Irish consortium which took over the club on Quinn’s recommendation and later sold out for a handsome profit.

Now a lot of the same supporters, because of the current economic climate, cannot afford to pay the match-day entry money let alone shell out for a season ticket. But they still love the club and who can blame them for taking the opportunity to watch the games as best they can?

Quinn should be very careful before criticising fans who sacrifice much to support their team and pay his handsome salary.

To issue the thinly veiled threat – “If people continue doing this in large numbers (watch matches in pubs) I might have to question my role here” – could backfire on him quite spectacularly.


Unjustifiable increase

WHEN the Pensioners Concessionary Travel Scheme was introduced, for some reason the Metro was excluded, even though it was owned by the councils through which it ran.

Nexus came up with the Gold Card for which there would be a yearly charge. This charge was for administrating the scheme and not as a fare (how could it be called a fare when it cost just over 2p a day at the time?). When the initial charge of 2006 went up to £12, I queried this and was informed that costs had gone up. It seems that costs have gone up once more this time, more than double, 108 per cent to £25 to administer the same scheme.

A great many of the now 80,000 card holders will be on basic pension, so the cost of £50 – £25 each for a man and his wife which after this year will have to be paid in one go – is not insignificant, especially when you hear some pensioners are already having to chose between heat or food. It is this price hike, the first of many which will be brought in under the guise of budget cuts or constraint, which gets up my nose.

The administration of the Metro for Nexus has been awarded to Deutshe Bundesbahn, the German Railway Company. The 80,000 card holders charged £25 each equates to £2million after the real administration costs. It must be a tidy sum for the shareholders who must presumably be satisfied as Deutshe Bundesbahn are not running the network out of the goodness of their heart.

The last time I was on the Metro and ticket inspectors were checking a gang of youths with no tickets, I was told if they were under 16 it was a waste of time prosecuting them. I wonder if the same will apply to pensioners who can’t or won’t renew their Gold Card and are caught without a ticket.

Bill Riley, South Hylton

Rise doesn’t add up

I AGREE with the Echo (February 7) on two things. I totally agree with Bill Riley who is furious at the increase from £12 to £25 for an OAP/disabled person’s concession Metro-only Gold Card and the Echo that it may (and it does) stick in the craw for some!

I paid £12 for a year’s disabled Gold Card but discovered that while I could park my car at the Metro to start, all the places I wanted to visit were outside my walking range. No doubt many disabled who use scooters lost their use of their card when the Metro banned them.

Look at how the area has developed. Take Seaham, seriously under-developed due to Sunderland. If people need NHS walk-in treatment they are sent to Peterlee and, if critical on arrival, are taken by ambulance to Sunderland Royal. Similarly, since Gateshead and Newcastle merged into a mega city, Sunderland is under-developed requiring residents to go to Newcastle via the Metro.

The Metro came into being when we were part of the Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive. All the councils paid in to fund it, Sunderland paying the most as it had the largest population count but never got the Metro for umpteen years after it served Newcastle.

Thanks to the Thatcher era public transport was deregulated, allowing the free-for-all we have today and hence the isolation of the Metro system.

Nexus Director General, Bernard Garner says they had no choice but to raise prices after a four-year price freeze, but from £12 to £25 is extortion. If you add five per cent inflation on to £12 for four years, it increases the price to £14.58, so £15 is about right. On a Wednesday you could get an after 9.30am all routes Metro rover ticket for £1.60. This now costs £4.

Perhaps the real reason is that since April 2010 the Metro system has been handed over to German operators.

Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Sunderland

Still good value

REFERENCE the article about the Metro Gold Card (Echo, February 7).

The sum of £25 a year is still value for money and is not a ridiculous price, as stated by Bill Riley.

It amounts to £2.08 per month or 52p per week. How can anyone complain about that? Mr Riley should have costed the amount out as above, instead of being upset about the £25 which does not cover the cost of a Metro driver’s pay for one day.

We have the cheapest bus and rail fares in the country. The editor got it spot on in Comment when he stated we have an excellent Metro system. How true! The Metro runs to 99 per cent on time every day.

Will Mr Riley and others like him run back to the Metro station to buy a ticket when their bus runs late or to the Nexus office for a Gold Card? Other options have been given by Nexus to buy Gold Cards as stated in the Echo. I will renew mine for a year in August. It’s value for money on an excellent rail system.

W. K. Cheal

UK’s trade deficit

ADMID Alan Wright’s rant on doom merchants and his BBC conspiracy theory, he rattled off some figures in support of the economy. I hope these figures are more accurate than his statement that there was a strong demand for British goods at home and overseas, because on this issue he doesn’t seem to have a clue.

Exports and inward investment are both one of the main factors of growth and therefore essential to our economic recovery. Business Secretary Vince Cable has finally noticed that Britain had “consumed too much and exported too little”. He announced plans to boost exports and help smaller businesses, while having already cut one-fifth from the UK Trade and Investment Agency budget.

Cable said they would have to do more with less. The British Chambers of Commerce weren’t too impressed. They stated the Government still does not offer the same level of support to small and medium-sized exporters as some of our major competitor countries. This was confirmed by the Office of National Statistics which reported that the UK deficit on visible trade in goods was the widest since records began in 1980.

W. Quinn, Duke Street, Millfield

Radio’s Tyneside bias

WHY does a city the size of Sunderland not have its own BBC local radio station? Yes there is Radio Newcastle, which purports to be the “radio for the North East,” but to be honest if it does not happen in Newcastle or on Tyneside it’s not interested.

Sunderland and Wearside are second-class citizens. Why should the folks of Sunderland and Wearside have to put up with a BBC local radio station based in Newcastle? The two city might only be a few miles apart in distance, but in reality the people who live there have very little in common. Unfortunately the people at the BBC do not understand this. It might be because most of its staff, presenters, reporters etc either come from Newcastle and Tyneside or have been brought in from outside the region.

Listen to the presenters, they will constantly refer to “Geordie”. Of course we are not Geordie. Listening to the early-morning show the guests that are on after nine are invariably from Newcastle or Tyneside. If they go on to the streets for an opinion, it is usually in Newcastle. If they speak to expats around the world, they are from Newcastle. You get the impression that Newcastle is all that matters. Listen to Total Sport – the majority of chat is about Newcastle United. Sunderland seems to be the second club.

I would like someone from Radio Newcastle to answer this letter and tell the people of Sunderland and Wearside why we do not have and deserve our own station. I don’t think they will, I would be surprised if anybody from the station reads the Sunderland Echo.

Al, Seaham