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It’s The Hope I Can’t Stand Fanzine: Sunderland AFC’s monthly board meeting

In an office somewhere in a London tower block, Sunderland AFC's monthly board meeting is about to begin.

Old Firm Football Summit Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

"Item one, Mr Short, is a presentation from our new PR firm. Let me introduce Granita Lovechip from Pineapple."

"It's Pyneaple - with a 'y', one 'p'. Yeah, this is like, so cool, to get the chance to pitch for such a great account. I mean Sunderland, it's like one of the greats. Let me introduce the rest of the team. This is Claurde, with an r, he's our Creative Heart. And in the corner is NJ, our Technical Heart. NJ doesn't do meetings so he'll stay in the corner with his headphones.”

“So, first, we were really thinking about what's a great brand for your club. I mean 'SAFC' what does that mean? So we really thought about it, like loads of thinking, and we just thought it's staring us in the face. 'S'. Like, imagine the headlines - "Super S", "S superb", "S shoot shots so supremely". People will really be talking about you. And then we looked at - what do you call it, a 'strip'?, love it, so sexy - and we thought let's just play around with those stripes."

*Granita points to her laptop*

"It's a big red and white S."

"Absolutely, so players run out and everyone is like, OMG, what is on their tops? It's so cool. Like eleven super heroes. Then we did a load of research on Sunderland. Like, Wikipedia has never been used so much. We wanted to see what was special about Sunderland and we came up with two concepts. Coal and ships. Now, coal, we had to click through to see what it is. It's amazing. It's like a rock you can burn. How cool is that? So we thought what could really inspire the team - seeing big piles of black coal, billowing smoke. And then what if the coal was pulled around the pitch before kick off by ships. Like not real ships, they're too big, but pretend ones. Tell them about our user research, Claurde".

"Yeah, so we went to a place called Newcastle which is right in your catchment. We showed them pictures of the piles of black stuff with the steam coming off and they said, yes, that's exactly what we think of when we think of Sunderland. It's such a winner."

"So then we saw you have like a problem. No-one is coming to see you team. The stadium is like almost empty. So what is the answer? Well, we thought out of the box. Like so far from the box we couldn't see it. And that's when we got it. What we need isn't more people it's more energy. So what if everyone who does go to the football takes with them an object they really care about and puts it on an empty seat. Like, if you work in an office, bring a keyboard. Perhaps you do gardening, bring a trowel. If you love the Bake Off, like bring a pastry tin. The objects fill the stadium and bring like so much energy. I can't believe no-one's thought of this before.”

“We took a look at your social media and it's just too negative. All these messages about going a goal behind and another bad day for the Black Cats. Fans don't want this, they want positive energy. So we have a new social media strategy all worked out. Let's say Sunderland have gone two nil down at home to Burton. Don't be a gloomy Gordon, with all that stuff about having a mountain to climb. Say "The lads have set up a terrific last 10 minutes by letting Burton score a second". See what we did - it's a positive. It's going to be an exciting end to the game, more exciting than if Sunderland were actually winning."

"I'm sorry Granita, I've been with you so far, but what about if we're four down at half-time or something?"

Old Firm Football Summit Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

"Yeah, it's all worked out Mr Fail, it's all in the strategy. Let's say it's a bad day at the office - 4 down, no hope. So what do fans want? Do they want to hear about the second half? No. They want to hear about the heroes of the past. So why not send out Tweets in the second half based on the 1973 Cup final? Or the 4-1 win against Newcastle in 1979? That will really cheer people up, give them some great energy."

Sunderland v Liverpool - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

"Howzingers, I love this. Great stuff Pyneaple, I'll be the fried chicken of the north for this. Pints all round in the Blue Bell."

*Doors swish, Pyneaple leaves*

"Item two Mr Short is the club's football strategy".

"What? We've got one. I told you what to do - sell, sell, sell, and dang the consequences. I want dollars in my pocket, pointy heels on my feet, and a one way ticket to the US of A."

"Yes Mr Short we've done that but the manager ..."

"Manager? Who? Not the miserable Irish one? Or that funny Dutchman?"

"No, he's called Grayson. He's saying that Sunderland have no chance of going up and might go down".

"Down? Is there a down? Anyway, who wants to go up? We've been up. Just tell him to shut up and get on with it."

"But we have to have an aim."

"Sell and dang the consequences!"

"The fans aren't liking that, sir. How about 'we'll find our level'?”

"What the hanging chad does that mean, fella?"

"Nothing sir. Our level could be league one, or two. But some fans, the incurable optimists, will think that Sunderland's level is the Premier League and will think we care about promotion."

"Ellis is winning again. Promote that guy".

*Doors swish, Martin Fail and the nonentities leave*

You can follow the lads over at ITHICS on Twitter by clicking here - be sure to catch their thoughts on all things SAFC right here on each and every week.

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