Earlier this week, Sunderland executive director Charlie Methven set a challenge to supporters to try and get the attendance at the Stadium of Light to over 32,000 for the visit of Oxford United on Saturday.
It looks as though the supporters are answering the call in some style as ticket sales have soared throughout this week, with further healthy sales expected both today and then on the day of the game.
Charlie’s passionate words are a further development in the relationship between our new owners and the fans. Methven, Stewart Donald and Juan Sartori have engaged with fans on a regular basis, and the rallying call to get backsides on seats is very well timed.
As I type this there have been just under 30,000 tickets sold for Sunderland’s third home game of what is quickly becoming a hugely enjoyable campaign - our very first three o’clock kick off at the Stadium of Light since the season began.
Of course, it’s easier to encourage people to go along when we’re winning games.
You could argue that Sunderland fans shouldn’t need to be encouraged to buy tickets at this point in time, but how good is it to have owners that are passionate about bringing supporters back on board?
Methven and Donald are both fully behind getting the Stadium of Light rocking once more - in the two home games we’ve played so far this season this has happened with gusto and, my god, it has felt good.
In a matter of months the supporters have gone from dealing with a man in Ellis Short who absconded all responsibility for the institution he owned, to watching on as three enthusiastic businessmen embrace their task with full force - talking to fanzines, mingling with supporters on a match day and, in the case of Juan Sartori, even donning a replica shirt to sing songs with fans in the stands.
It goes without saying that this level of interaction means that when the owners speak, the supporters will listen because they know that everything they do is with the best interests of the club in mind.
We all want to make the Stadium of Light an intense place for opposition teams to play football this season - the fact of the matter is that most of the players we’re coming up against these days will have rarely played in front of over 30,000 supporters on a regular basis, and the sheer amount of people in the stadium, creating a noise is bound to be overwhelming.
The attacking style of play we’ve adopted under Jack Ross combined with having our home ground brimming with boisterous, enthused Sunderland supporters will only help us to overcome the majority of sides this season in League One.
Football is a results business. If the team keep performing well and giving their own, more and more people will want to come through the turnstiles on a match day to support the team - that much is a given.
We have owners who care about the fortunes of the club, and the fact that more people are attending games now than they were last season is testament to the hard work they’ve done so far, but supporters have to play their part too. Some will be easier to convince than others, but hopefully attendances will continue to rise as the season goes on.
Here’s hoping we have another good day tomorrow - and for anyone still not sure about whether they should return back to the Stadium of Light on a match day, please give these guys and this team a chance.
So far this season they haven’t let us down and we have to hope that, win lose or draw, they’ll continue to make Sunderland supporters proud come full time tomorrow.