It is time to conclude our series based on (mainly) electronic conversations between Salut! Sunderland writers and Charlie Methven, executive director of the club and a minority shareholder.
We thank Charlie for his time and full, diligent responses. Not every Sunderland supporter is yet convinced, either that the takeover from Ellis Short leaves Stewart Donald, Charlie and their team in a strong financial position or that bargain acquisitions from Scotland will win us League One.
We will see. For now, the right noises are being made and the level of communication between club and fans is healthier than in the past, possibly healthier than at any time in the history of Sunderland AFC.
John McCormick, associate editor: can anything be done for fans like us (160 miles away) getting tickets as and when but never getting loyalty points in our own right?
Charlie: yes! We are going to launch a membership scheme for exiles. We are really excited about this as it expands the club and serves a real need that we get asked about quite a lot. Watch this space…
[John cheekily added, after the response had been received: would the club consider a fancard on the Shrewsbury model, where supporters who can’t get to many matches can pay a small sum for a card which gives a discount on admission and which can be activated for specific games? Have you plans to sample the catering for the majority of fans, ie those outside the restaurants, Black Cats bar etc?
Ken Gambles, regular contributor, SAFCSA branch official in N Yorks and author of Black Catalogue: We Are Sunderland: I sent Mr Donald a copy of Black Catalogue. Did he receive it? Ånd maybe a bit selfish, but how about some kind of recognition for the hardcore “idiots” who renewed after the 19 pt, 15 pt and double relegation seasons. A badge, a free pint, chance to watch training? It wouldn’t cost much but would be an acknowledgement of loyalty/stupidity.
Charlie: I can’t answer for the first point, but shall ask Stewart when I see him next week. On the second question, we are hugely grateful for all our season card holders and have been debating open training sessions for SC holders internally. So, yes, hopefully so.
And finally, the obvious question, touched on earlier by our assistant editor, Malcolm Dawson:
Colin Randall, editor, Salut! Sunderland, like Pete Sixsmith 50+ years a fan: a quick one: minimum expectations for next season and the one afterwards?
Charlie: a happy, driven, purposeful club, enjoying a slightly spruced up stadium and watching a committed squad playing for the shirt and competing hard in the top half of the League 1 table.
The one after, clearly that depends on what happens next April! But if we did happen to be in League 1 still then our expectation would be promotion, no question.
Jack Ross didn’t turn down Ipswich to stay in League 1 for three seasons; Tony Davison didn’t leave Spurs to be a lower league MD; and Stewart and I didn’t come up here to compete against the Oxfords of this world forever (tongue in cheek).