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FIVE key observations from the Sunderland season card renewal news which emerged today

Sunderland AFC today announced their plans for season cards in the 2018/19 campaign. With our future as a Championship club in the balance it was important they made it as attractive as possible to supporters, but have they done enough?

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Coleman on the front line

Perhaps the biggest take from the news that emerged this afternoon was the very short, frank and honest video message from Sunderland manager Chris Coleman that accompanied it.

There have - quite rightly - been doubts amongst supporters that Coleman would hang around in the event of a relegation this season, and whilst there’s nothing certain at this stage it does say a lot when the manager is the one they put in front of the cameras to talk about togetherness and the need to turn the club around soon.

In the video, the former Wales boss says;

We can’t change the past, but we can change our future. Because, Sunderland AFC is a proper football club, where graft and determination and commitment are valued more than anything.

Young or old, it’s in our blood. This is not the place to be if you’ve not got heart. If you haven’t got heart or courage you can’t be here.

When I arrived I said that someone had to turn this club around. This club will turn - and when it does...

Granted, it’s incredibly likely that every word of that was written for Coleman, but it’s fairly interesting that he’s the man they’ve thrown out in front of the supporters, unlike past efforts to bring supporters onside with season card renewal PR attempts.

If we’re going to micro-analyse what he said, it’s intriguing when looking at the wording of that last line that the word “someone” is in there, but I digress - it’s important that the only man in a position of power with any positivity attached to him was put out there on the front line for what is a fairly crucial PR campaign.

Sunderland AFC

Prices have dropped

Unsurprisingly the club have decided to slash prices right across the board.

The quality of football on show at the Stadium of Light in recent years has been turgid, and it would be fair to say that loyal season card holders haven’t received much in the way of value for money.

Until we beat Fulham at the end of 2017 we hadn’t won a game at the Stadium of Light in almost a year, and even before that period the fans had been starved of on-the-pitch success for far too long.

As a result, the club have cut back the price of a season card in order to make it more affordable - with families in particular taken into consideration.

Adult season cards have been reduced by up to 16%, with prices beginning at £310 - which works out at less than £13.50 a game.

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Under 8’s now free in the Family Zone

One of the main worries of many of the Roker Report readers that contribute to our Fan Letters section of the website is that we’re going to lose a generation of young supporters if the matchday experience at the Stadium of Light doesn’t improve.

In turn, families have to be safe in the knowledge that in bringing along a child to watch Sunderland they aren’t completely wasting their hard-earned money - and it would appear that the club have gone some way in an attempt to at least address that by making season cards for the youngest Sunderland supporters more affordable.

The statement on SAFC.com reads;

Anyone buying an adult, under 22 or over 65 ticket will be able to get an under 8 season card free of charge, with additional under 8 tickets priced at just £25. This is applicable in the Family Zone only.

For example, a grandparent over 65, could take two grandchildren aged under 8 for £245 a season, less than £11 a game.

The same conditions apply for families purchasing adult and child tickets, though those buying adult tickets will be able to get an under 8 ticket free of charge and additional under 8 or under 16 tickets for just £25 each. Again, this applies in the Family Zone only.

This means that a parent taking two children aged seven and ten, would pay £335 a season, working out at just under £14.60 a game.

Can’t say fairer than that I suppose, though it would have made more sense to extend the offer to other areas of the Stadium too where young supporters are already housed with their families.

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New price band for school/college-age supporters

One thing Sunderland have always done that many other clubs haven’t is have an under 22’s price band, allowing younger supporters to purchase season cards at a more affordable rate.

This coming season there will be another band solely for supporters between the ages of 16-18, with prices from £80 - that’s less than £3.50 per game.

When I was a student it was a right frig on getting the funds together to pay for tickets so I can imagine that this will be incredibly welcome news to those that qualify, particularly as the majority of Sunderland supporters that don’t have a great deal of disposable income will be quite happy to sack off their season cards after the state of us the last couple of seasons.

Sunderland v Crystal Palace - Premier League Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images

Family season cards & concessions now available in the East Stand

One of the most sparsely populated areas of the Stadium of Light is the East Stand, and with that being the main area of the ground that the TV cameras catch it’s often ridiculed by opposition supporters who find empty seats hilarious.

Presumably, then, in a bid to tackle that the club have made certain areas of the East Stand ‘concession areas’ - something previously unexplored.

Having sat in the East Stand myself in the past I can see why people mightn’t want to sit there, despite the fact it’s probably got the best view of the pitch in the ground, because the atmosphere isn’t great. But then again, where does have good atmosphere in the Stadium of Light these days?