Sean Brown says...
I’m in a very happy place right now regarding our club - as a Sunlun fan this is a wonderful place to be. So much positivity, so much optimism…
We have a new owner who wants the best for our club; we have a manager who looks to play exciting football; we have a recruitment team that looks to excel itself; coaches at the academy who look to the future; players we can be proud of… we even have midfielders who can shoot equally well with both feet.
Now the latter is admittedly a bonus, it isn’t required for success. One decent foot is enough for most players and I wouldn’t think to complain about any right-footer who can’t hit a 30-yard screamer with their left, but…
What about clubs? What’s the point of my analogy? Well, for a club to function optimally it needs to very much be two-footed. We have all the above optimism and positivity and we can all enjoy this wonderful rebirth we appear to be witnessing - so we should all be able to witness it shouldn’t we? That’s a minimum requirement, isn’t it? No exclusions for people who have, say, followed our club for longer than its current COO - a Mackem might I add - has been on this earth.
The club's‘ left foot’ in this scenario is our commercial arm. While our right foot - the football side of our club - strides forward confidently, our left foot drags behind. It’s very pronounced in many ways, it’s very noticeable; from the blank season card issues, to the club shop still being unaccountably closed to the public, to the point of this conversation.
There are excuses and I’m sure there are genuine difficulties with rebuilding parts of our club from scratch.
There are issues that we aren’t privy to, and I’m not saying that they don’t have some significant impact on the club's ability to get its left leg moving, but the current argument about digital exclusion is not a problem that should require an argument at all.
Davison likes data, I love data, huge fan of data me... but frankly, I don’t care what the data says when there are fans who are being turned away from a club they’ve supported their whole lives on the basis our COO doesn’t feel its necessary to accommodate them.
This is a ridiculous thing to happen at a club like ours, and it’s beyond reprehensible from those responsible.
So dust off a till, employ some staff, stick a machine that takes cash somewhere accessible; do whatever it takes to get these people in our ground, as that’s the very least we can do for them. It is the very least of the club's responsibility to its fanbase.
It is the right thing to do, and who knows...
If our left foot catches up with our right, we may just break into a full sprint.
Malc Dugdale says...
I think the future of football is cashless, and I totally appreciate the costs that can be saved by moving in that direction. Indeed, across the last 18 to 24 months the health challenges that have been better contained through less physical contact make it such that without cashless systems, fans may have not been allowed back into matches as yet. Live football is possible sooner due to contactless and online transactions.
What the club cannot do though is embark on that aspect of the rebuild and regeneration of the club without due care and attention to those who have fed and watered the club for so many years in the past. The club needs to ensure there is a way for those who have put many thousands of cash pounds into the club through ticket sales and other on-site purchases with their cold hard-earned cash to keep supporting the lads, and their club.
It is both disrespectful and commercially naive to not consider this smaller collection within our fan base.
Whilst the 21st century is more and more about the gadgets in our hands and the passwords needed to drive them than ever before, not all fans are IT literate, and some just don’t want to be. Surely they have a right to choose that lifestyle, but not to be excluded from a lifelong passion like SAFC because of that choice?
I don’t see why a small-scale means of cash transactions cannot be added back in right now, granted with targets to reduce that over time, ideally while providing support for fans to transition to alternate ways to purchase tickets. Our club is a key pillar in our community… why would it suddenly abandon a chunk of fans purely based on the sales channel they prefer to use, and have done for 50 years or more in many cases?
There have been a lot of positive changes on and off the pitch since KLD arrived, and this change cannot be stopped, I get that. What we can do as a club though is handle this change with respect and consideration, and those extra few thousand long-term fans will carry on watching the lads for some time to come.
These fans deserve that, for what we have all been through with his last five years. Let’s not start crapping on our own doorstep right now, just when that door is starting to open a tad, to a sunny outlook.
All fans are important, not just the easy-to-service ones.
Sort it Kyril… you’ve sorted far bigger challenges successfully already.
Tom Albrighton says...
I think overall the club's decision to go cashless was long overdue. In society - especially a post-covid one - which encourages the consumer to avoid cash where possible, it really was a necessary measure to be taken.
For too long it was awkward to buy a pie and pint in the ground, simply by virtue of clarting around with change or making sure you had a tenner in your pocket. Going cashless has eventually dragged the club into the 21st century and hopefully should set the wheels in motion for a more modern way of consuming the full match day experience.
However, this technological move should not be coming at the expense of those who cannot keep up. Inclusivity at football clubs is and should be absolutely paramount - but it should be inclusive for everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexuality or disability. In going cashless the club risks not being inclusive to their more elderly or less confident fans, fans who have paid in cash to go to matches for longer than the owner of the club has been alive.
As Sunderland as a club progresses under the stewardship of KLD, it must also be of paramount importance that whilst we progress and advance, we don’t leave others behind. So whilst the move to a more modern football club should be and is welcomed with open arms, we should also be mindful that Sunderland is a club for everyone and that should always remain.
For the sake of what it would take, which is not very much, we have to cater to those who prefer to use cash - even if it is the ’old-fashioned way.
Kelvin Beattie says...
It is a timely and practical move toward a cashless SAFC community - there are countless advantages to this move, and most of us will benefit.
However, the SAFC community does include those who for a variety of reasons neither have the technology or the skill to move forward at the rate the club want them to.
The task is fairly simply defined - we need to identify who these supporters are, and give them the assistance required to remain an integral part of the SAFC community. What this assistance might look like could take different forms pending the particular difficulty or issue for the person. It might be an email address for some, a phone number for others. It could be an agreed pairing with supporters who volunteer themselves, who are “cashless savvy” and who facilitate purchases for the person struggling to access this medium.
I believe there are a number of ways this issue can be overcome, and it may be a menu of options that will resolve the issue.
What should be made absolutely clear by the club, is that the people experiencing difficulties will not be forgotten about and solutions will be identified.
As things on the pitch start to improve, things off the pitch need to keep pace and include all of us moving forward.