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Fan Letters: Sunderland fans remain divided over fan group ultimatum

“Is this a reflection of the 13 year olds who chant ‘Sunlun till I die’ and ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ during the same game, or can such extremes be the result of what they read on Facebook?” asks RR reader Colin. Email us:!

Dear Roker Report,

I’d like to join the ranks of those supporters who are less than impressed at the ultimatum issued to Stewart Donald by the combined fanzines. There was something not right, not very British and something dare I say, not too democratic about the whole escapade that left me feeling uneasy.

Let me say that the people who run these publications are quite clearly amongst the most committed of fans, spending huge amounts of time putting together the text that we crave. And to have such representation is marvellous. Having experienced the decades of no such thing since the early 60’s, I fully appreciate the voice that you now have, and all courtesy of the scourge that is social media.

However, the reach that you have gives you a degree of influence, and with influence can come power. It is not too long ago that editors of fanzines were waxing lyrical about the owner. He could do no wrong. Suddenly, things aren’t going our way and you demand that he sells up. Is this a reflection of the 13 year olds who chant ‘Sunlun till I die’ and ‘You’re not fit to wear the shirt’ during the same game, or can such extremes be the result of what they read on Facebook? Who is influencing who here? These are the chants that newspapers love. They broadcast them as representative of the whole support.

Clearly, there is much that Stewart Donald needs to do and it may be that his best contribution to the cause would be to sell. However, the panic driven ultimatum created a storm that could actually damage what you all purport to protect. We risk becoming the club with the extremist, volatile supporters that prospective owners and managers avoid. That isn’t what Sunderland supporters are and never has been. Not all fans agreed with the timing of this action. There comes a time for revolution and we should have it in our armoury but some of us would ask that fanzines use their influence for such sparingly and wisely.

Colin C Hetton

Dear Roker Report,

On the field has been good with 3 good performances 7 points and only a dodgy ref making it 9.we should now get behind the team and pp as promotion is now within reach and other teams above in other cups a bonus to us. Off the field is a shambles we have a owner who at any sign of things going wrong throws his dummy out the pram. Sd came of twitter when a few tweets he didn’t like came through. Sd selling club because supporters forums asked him to. To sd supporters go on results but mostly performances if Sunderland play well and lose we don’t moan basically. I think sd making huge mistake selling club and just needs to grow a pair and get on with it. Supporters forget if team playing well and trying sd. Praise to pp as unlike Jr has managed to get players playing when things in background uncertain again. If we are bought out we need stability since we got in leauge one it’s been more looking at off field than on field. So option 1 grow a pair dd and get this club up or sell to someone with stability.

Kevin Smith

Dear Roker Report,

I have been a Sunderland fan since 1973 and I am living in Trondheim, Norway. I also am a fan by the Norwegian team Rosenborg FC. Both teams have one thing in common.

They are both struggling to achieve earlier greatness. And in Rosenborg there are a few supporters on social media who manage to create negativity in the club. Don't do that mistake with Sunderland!

You have two excellent men who already have done fantastic job with turning Sunderland's finances on the right track. And please let the gaffer work with daily positive support.

Neither Sunderland football club or Rome was built in one day!

Per K Hovdal

Ed’s Note [Damian]: I’ve taken the liberty of responding to you gentlemen as a whole since you (and I) share some of the same points of view.

There’s not a lot for me to add to your individual correspondence here, and certainly nothing I haven’t said already. I disagreed with the ultimatum given largely because the timing was awful and I believe it stems from unrealistic expectations - though that isn’t to say that the club is being run “well” in any traditional sense of the word.

As someone that’s expended a great deal of effort over the years explaining to detractors that Roker Report is a collective of individuals with varying opinions and no agenda, I found the blanket statement that was pushed out left a sour taste in my mouth. There was no vote, and the truth is that when you have a collection of individuals you can’t speak with one voice unless each gives their permission for you to do so. Should I be upset about this? Sort of. On the one hand it’s a fanzine I simply edit and contribute to, and it’s daily governance is not my remit. Equally though, if it holds enough influence to utilise it like a cudgel in a meaningful way, the affiliation every contributor has with Roker Report is noteworthy, and so should perhaps be treated with a courteous degree of democracy. Had this happened I am fairly confident that the vote would still have swung towards the ultimatum, because the vocal majority of our contributors support it. I wonder though if a concerted effort on the part of we who disagreed would have led to what I would call a more measured approach to the situation, as an appeal to the owner rather than a demand.

Ultimately, Roker Report joined other outlets in decrying the owner, but it is not wholly representative of every Roker Reporter. I’ve just coined that term so don’t go stealing it.

I would urge you not to be discouraged by any content coming out of our platform that you disagree with, but rather keep an eye on countering opinion and continue to share your views on any issue you deem contentious.

Going forward (and utterly regardless of the outcome/fallout from recent events) everyone contributing is, first and foremost, a fan of Sunderland AFC. Each wants only the best for and from the club, and that is as it should be. We just seem to have drastically different views of how best to achieve this, if indeed we are in a position to influence the outcome at all.

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