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FAN LETTERS: “Forget the Dortmund model - why don’t Sunderland follow the BOURNEMOUTH model?”

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Roker Report reader Ian Hindmarch gives an interesting idea for further fan-club interaction, and Colter Lasley reckons the Bournemouth model might just be as worthwhile as the Dortmund one. Have you got something to say? Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk - we’ll include your message in a future edition!

Burnley v AFC Bournemouth - Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Recently I saw an interview with the new owners where they said how they want the club and the fans to become a community. It’s great to see them on all the social media sites answering questions.

Well, this got me thinking. What if there was a membership only website? A virtual pub so to speak, where Sunderland fans from all over the world can meet up, get to know the owners, all the staff, players, academy and ladies team. Have a proper community to chat and throw ideas around. Involve local businesses, schools, charities, etc.

Members pay a subscription and thus it generates extra revenue. Local businesses can pay to advertise and give discounts to members.

For example (keeping numbers low) - membership is £5 per month. Let’s say 50,000 members join - that’s £250,000 per month and £3m per year.

How many members could we have? How much would you be happy to pay each month?

Get extra news on the club, events and charity news. Volunteer work. Run regular competitions. Matchday events. Do things so that fans that can’t be at the match can still feel part of it. Download matchday programmes.

Something I would like to see on the site is a clear set of short term and long term goals for the club, academy and ladies team set out by the owners. Then regular updates on to see if they’re on track. For example - win League One. We need to win X amount of games and score X amount of goals, etc. Then every week have a chart to see if we’re on track.

So, as I said, make it a place to create that community feel - a fun place to bring Sunderland fans from all over the world and the club together. Maybe together we can define what Sunderland AFC is all about.

I’d love to hear what you think.

Ian Hindmarch

Ed’s Note [Alex]: I think you’re onto something there, Ian. You certainly seemed to have outlined a blueprint for yet another great mode of fan-club interaction.

That being said, I reckon the club would need to give the platform a good number of exclusive features in order to justify it’s existence. If this online forum is too similar to the likes of ReadyToGo (a Sunderland fan message board that can be accessed free of charge) then a lot of people likely wouldn’t see the benefit of paying £5 a month to use a service which they could emulate elsewhere without spending a penny.

I’d certainly be interested to see the club try something along these lines though. Granting access to online programmes, like you say, might be one special feature - and hopefully Donald, Methven and co. could brainstorm a few more!

Photo by Tony Marshall/EMPICS via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I am reluctant to say it, but I am hopeful for the first time in the five years I have been a Sunderland fan.

The new ownership seem to be saying and doing all the right things, such as streaming games for us fans overseas. The owners mentioned following the example of Dortmund, which I think is admirable, but perhaps we should also look to a team like Bournemouth.

Eddie Howe and Bournemouth to me are the manifestation of how to run a club in England - they sign young British talent from the lower leagues and develop them.

I would love us to follow a similar example - while we are certainly a club with a much more successful history and much more support, we also are not in a particularly stylish part of the country, and thus might benefit from concentrating less on foreign players who are attracted to London or perhaps Manchester, and are not as interested in the North East.

In your opinion, does it seem that the owners will target young, British talent outside of our own academy in order to supplement the boys that are coming through?

Colter Lasley

Ed’s Note [Alex]: Yeah, I think so, Colter. Although the main reason why I reckon this will be our transfer policy is because we need to focus on players who are already acclimatized to the English Football League. Chances are we wouldn’t be able to attract foreign players from credible divisions based on a combination of the league we’re in and - as you mentioned - the geographical disadvantage of being in the North End, but I highly doubt we’re looking any further than Scotland anyway.

I understand where you’re coming from about Bournemouth, too. They’ve built up a successful, Premier League club on the foundations of young lads eager to prove their abilities - and while ‘The Bournemouth Model’ doesn’t sound as aesthetically pleasing as ‘The Dortmund Model’, the fact remains that we could do worse than learn from their ventures up the leagues!