Sunderland offer help to supporters after cashless move as Steve Davison gives off-field update
Sunderland have offered one-to-one support to any fan struggling with the transition to digital ticketing and cashless systems inside the Stadium of Light.
Some supporters have raised concerns about the move made over the summer, and Chief Operating Officer Steve Davison has admitted that the club 'did not necessarily provide enough help' to those who may have been affected by the move.
Davison has insisted that the move is the right one for the long term, but says Sunderland will now look to do more to make the transition smoother.
In an interview with safc.com, Davison has also said that the club could yet announce more summer concerts for next summer.
Elton John and Ed Sheeran have both already been confirmed to visit the Stadium of Light in 2022.
The COO has added that the Black Cats House ticket office and club store will re-open on matchdays and the day before from this coming Friday.
You can read all the key points from Davison below...
ON THE MOVE TO A CASHLESS SoL, AND WHAT DO YOU IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE STRUGGLING
"I can appreciate it's a really significant change for supporters, but I firmly believe that this is the right thing for us to do long-term," Davison said.
"I don't think we have necessarily provided enough help to supporters in making this significant change, and that's an area we could have improved.
"In fact, I met with two supporters groups over the past couple of weeks and they made it quite clear that there were fans out there that were struggling with the change that we'd made.
I did go away and reflect on this, and I did look at the data that said in the last full season where we had cash turnstiles we had 238 people paying by cash either at the turnstiles or in the ticket office.
"Clearly Covid has intervened and more of those will have moved to use cards instead of cash.
"I did reflect on what the right thing for us to do on this was, and I took another look at how many people had commented to us as a football club around the difficulty they were having, and actually we have not had that many complaints about it.
"That's not to underestimate the complaints we had received, but there really weren't too many of them.
"I sat there and thought we could go one of two ways here, we could either reintroduce cash or what we could do instead was carry on operating cashless and with digital ticketing, and instead help all of those supporters who are struggling to cope with the change to cashless and make sure we are giving them the support they need.
"What we are offering is one-to-one help for all of those supporters who are having difficulty in working in a cashless environment and coming to football games.
"We want to be an inclusive football club and we want as many supporters in the ground as we possibly can, so what I am asking those supporters to do is to get in touch with us, or get in touch with a supporters' group and they will pass your details on to us.
"What we will then do is give you one-to-one help to get you into the ground.
"Society is changing and we are moving into a more digital world, and I know only too well that some of our older supporters this is proving quite challenging.
"But it's not just the older supporters, we do need to help everybody in society to cope with the changes we're making and that's what we're here to do.
"We think that by offering one-to-one help it will help people not only to come to football matches but in everyday life as this becomes more and more prevalent."
ON THE CLUB STORE AND THE TICKET OFFICE....
"From now on, from our next home game against Bolton, the ticket office will be opening on matchday and the day before matchday, as will the store.
"I do appreciate that the store has been closed apart from online sales, and that has been due to some supply chain issues.
"I appreciate that we ran out of shirts at one point, which is partly due to the incredible demand for the shirt which has surpassed all expectations, but we are now suffering some supply issues."
ON THE PROSPECT OF FURTHER MATCHDAY CHANGES
“We’ve reintroduced the fanzone at the Beacon of Light in a fairly low-key way so far, so we could make sure we get the offering right.
"Nevertheless, we’ve had around 500 fans coming along to the fanzone, and I’m very grateful to the Foundation of Light for their support. We’ll make further improvements to that as we go along.
"We’ve also introduced card payments for food and drink, and that has radically improved the time that it takes to get served.
"We’ve made so many changes, it’s important that we now consolidate on those changes and improve those operations. You won’t see too many additional changes between now and Christmas.”
ON THE STADIUM CONCERT PROGRAMME....
"We're delighted with the announcement that Ed Sheeran is coming to the stadium, we have worked really, really, hard to make that concert happen, and on the back of Elton John as well," he said.
"We are hopeful that we might be able to secure some more concerts for the stadium next summer.
"We are hoping that we can create a full six-week programme of music for Sunderland in the next year."