'It's simply not good enough' - Red & White Army urge worried Sunderland fans to air concerns at open meeting with season unravelling
An independent fan group is to hold an open meeting for members next month to give concerned supporters the chance to air their views with Sunderland’s campaign unravelling.
Sunderland dropped a place to 12th in League One following the 1-1 draw with Blackpool at the Stadium of Light on Saturday, equaling the club’s lowest ever league placing.
With pressure mounting on manager Phil Parkinson - who has won just two out of the 13 league and cup games he has taken charge of - fans have also vented their frustration at owner Stewart Donald and the Sunderland squad.
In a recent Echo poll, nine out of 10 fans said they had no faith Parkinson would lead the club to promotion this season, while supporters have also aired concerns about the football structure at the club and long-term ambitions.
Donald told fans recently he was “rolling up his sleeves” and was determined to make a success of his Sunderland ownership and for fans to be patient.
But the Red & White Army (RAWA) - the independent Sunderland AFC supporters’ group - describe the current situation as “the lowest point in the club's history” and are keen to gauge the mood among the Sunderland fanbase.
A RAWA statement read: “Amongst growing unrest, disatisfaction and disilusionment, what can supporters do? How can we influence improvement and change and what specifically should we be calling for?”
The Red and White Army will be holding an open meeting for members on Thursday, January 16 at 6.30pm upstairs at The Peacock.
The full RAWA statement read: “Supporters are rightly concerned about the current state of our club and the direction it seems to be heading in.
“Many fans are expressing their concern at the club's football strategy, from recruitment to the management team, and at those making the decisions at the top.
“There is a feeling amongst the fanbase that there seems to be a lack of ambition and an incoherent approach.
“Supporters are also troubled about the club's finances and governance. The owner has offered explanations in these matters a number of times in radio interviews and in a recent meeting with RAWA and other supporter groups.
“However, this has not allayed the fears of many fans. They are also concerned about fundamental issues such as the day-to-day running of the club.
“RAWA asked the club to share an organisation structure chart at the meeting on 4th December to help clarify this.”
It added: “At the meeting on 16th January RAWA invite members to come along to The Peacock to discuss what we as a democratic, independent supporters group can and should do.
“Amongst growing unrest, disatisfaction and disilusionment, what can supporters do? How can we influence improvement and change and what specifically should we be calling for?
“RAWA has been in existence for two years now. We hope one day we will hold an open meeting to celebrate something positive.
“As things stand though, this is the lowest point in the club's history.
“Sunderland fans have kept the faith in difficult circumstances and we have tried to help rekindle the club these past two years.
“The direction of the club is threatening to erode the hope and support of the most loyal and most optimistic among us.
“It's simply not good enough.”
The minutes of the recent meeting between Donald, RAWA and other supporter groups were released last week.
When the owner was asked if he had a message for supporters concerned with the direction of the club, currently at a ‘historic, all-time low’, the minutes read: “SD replied all off-pitch developments take time, but if the football is not good, it reflects on all other decisions.
“A positive to take, SD says, is that we did not cut and run, we recruited top people, invested instructure and personnel.
“He recognised that changing the manager was a gamble, but PP has a proven track record, and SD is putting what the manager needs around him, it might take longer than he would like but the club needs time to get there.
“The recruitment team is the correct one and we can bring in the right players.
“SD continued saying everything behind the scenes is good, the owner didn't cut and run in the summer, the club has new investors, there is a strong recruitment team now in place and there have been overdue improvements to the magnificent facility, that is the Stadium of Light.”
They went on to read: “SD believes in the process but knows there is more work to be done. He asks fans to stick with us, be positive with us and to give us and the manager time.
“Sunderland is a long-term project, the football club can be great, the manager has proven success at this level, SD is rolling up his sleeves and working to get this right.
“If he is making the wrong decisions, even with the best of intentions, he knows he will not be around for long. He said we need time to get it right, but we must do it relatively quickly.”