The Red & White Army aims to channel the voice of fans and will engage with the Sunderland Association Football Club owner and its executives.
Their mission statement reads: "The Red and White Army is a fully democratic, inclusive and independent supporters group which aims to give a voice to all Sunderland fans. Its goal is to inform, liaise with and communicate with the club in the hope of strengthening fan relationships with Sunderland AFC, to the benefit of all supporters."
The Red & White Army is free to join and will hold an open meeting soon after launch at a city centre location. Interim Chairman Andrew Hird said:
"We aim to be as representative of Sunderland supporters as any one single organisation can be. That's why we have a democratic approach and aim to have co-opted positions to represent the various sections of support. This group, we hope, will be taking questions and ideas to the club hierarchy on behalf of all fans and feeding back those conversations to all supporters via our website and social media platforms and in emails to our members. We believe the Red & White Army can give fans a strong, coherent voice. We're not here to replace or repeat the good work undertaken by some of the well-established, existing supporter groups. In fact, we hope our approach will complement their efforts."
As well as the usual functional roles that any democratic supporters’ organisation has the Red & White Army are asking for a single rep from existing supporter entities in their efforts to be inclusive and credible. Mr Hird added:
"We've provided a list of traditional and modern supporter forums and platforms and we're inviting each of them to put forward an individual to become part of the team. It's not an exhaustive list and we're happy to listen to bids form any other groups out there".
The Red & White Army want to channel the passion of Sunderland's loyal fan base through open, respectful dialogue with SAFC. Interim Vice Chair Jane Hughes said "This organisation is in it for the long haul. We hope to develop a strong group with thousands of members that will become the voice of fans for decades to come. We're all too aware that the Red & White Army is being launched into very choppy waters. Emotions are running high amongst supporters and we absolutely want to take fans' current concerns to the club."
Supporters can become a member of the Red & White Army for free on their website and all members will have the right to vote at future meetings and contribute to the direction of the organisation.
A co-opted individual is invited to join the team of lead reps from the following sections of support/platform:-
· A Love Supreme
· Away Fan Rep
· Branch Liaison Council
· Disabled Supporters Group
· Family Zone Rep
· SMB - Pure Football Forum
· South Stand/Atmosphere group
· Supporter Liaison Group
· Roker Report Fansite
· Wise Men Say Podcast
· LGBTQ rep
The elected roles are filled on an interim basis by the following until the first Annual General Meeting.
Chair - Andrew Hird
Vice Chair - Jane Hughes
Vice Chair - Michael McAllister
Treasurer – Ryan Griffiths
Secretary - Cath Reid
Policy co-ordinator - David Rose