Dear Roker Report,
This is something I have wanted to write for a little while but I gave the club the benefit of the doubt.
At the Rotherham game, there was a guy behind me who was racially abusing one of the Rotherham players. This didn’t happen once or twice, it was pretty much every time he got the ball, especially in the first half and a couple of times in the second half.
Now, unfortunately, I didn’t report this at the game. Me and my 2 mates and probably more round us felt really uncomfortable and it marred what was a fantastic win and a fantastic game. I didn’t want to ruin my experience more than already and I also just didn’t feel comfortable pointing this lad out to the stewards who 9 times out of 10 are absolutely useless anyway.
Well fast forward to the next day, it was something that still left a bitter taste in my mouth so I reported this to the club. I gave the seat details for the lad, a description, etc. The club said they would pass this onto the security team and they would be in touch.
Well fast forward to now and I’ve still heard nothing back. The lad has attended most games since although he sits in various seats in the same block. I have chased this up and radio silence.
It’s really poor from the club. They really need to put processes in place as especially with what’s went on this last week, they will start to lose fans. Families won’t feel safe, they will see this as now somewhere they can’t take their child due to what they may hear or see and god knows what people from any background other than white British feel. It's utterly embarrassing. We make a lot about what happens in the away end but it's really just as bad in parts of the home end.
Again the minority spoiling it for the majority.
I love this club, I love the fans (mostly), I love what this group of players stands for. But the club has too many shortcomings off the field and it needs addressing as urgently as any on-field issue.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi there. Thanks for writing in about this very serious and important matter, and I completely understand your desire for us not to publish you name.
Racism is not acceptable in any form in any part of society, it’s a scourge perpetrated by a minority that holds back everyone. Incidents of racism and xenophobia have becoming a regular feature of our letters pages and our writers’ experiences at matches, and we have written extensively on this topic over the last few years as a result of what we’ve seen and heard.
I absolutely agree with you that the lack of a response that you have received from the club is simply not good enough, it must be really frutrating to see the same racist “fan” attending games when he should be serving a long stadium ban.
The club’s director Igor Levin is responsible for the implementation of the Premier League’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion Standard, which seeks to see “increased confidence in, and more effective, incident management systems” when it comes to discrimination.
Levin needs to live up to the words of the club’s own statement about the EDI Standard in particular; “Sunderland Football Club operates a policy of zero tolerance towards any incidents of anti-social behaviour... There is no place for any form of racism within the Stadium of Light, the City of Sunderland and our society as a whole. SAFC have put many years hard work into this fundamental policy of the Club and we are more dedicated than ever to achieving inclusion for all. We remain committed to actively eradicating any such behaviour and continue to urge our supporters to embrace this ideal.”
Your experience shows that ideal clearly is not being upheald as it should. There is no zero-tolerance. They’ve put out statements in the past, but words are cheap and actions speak a hell of a lot louder.
I would encourage you and any of our readers who have witnessed or experieced racism or other forms of discrimination at or around the match to report them not only to the club but to Kick It Out, who will work on your behalf to ensure the club takes action.
For me, a QR code and number to report incidents to Kick It Out should be on everyone’s match tickets and on the back of every seat in the ground. It’s time this was taken seriously at every level and by every Sunderland supporter worth their salt.
I also recommend you raise this matter with Red & White Army’s Secretary and co-opted Diversity Rep, Andrew Nelson, as it was they who requested that the club adopt the Premier League’s EDI standard.
It’s part of the Supporters’ Trust’s role to hold our club accountable for this kind of issue, and it will be important that this topic is on the agenda at the next Supporters Collective Structured Dialogue meeting. We need to know how many incidents have been recorded and what action has been taken in each of those instances, as one racist is one too many!
Dear Roker Report,
All the signs are looking that we will cash in on Ross Stewart. Kyril says he has all the bases covered if he goes. Really?
To replace his goals we would have to spend big and where are we going to find a replacement. Simms does not look interested so count him out. The answer is simply give him a decent contract which he deserves. Again, this season we have only have two forwards it’s bad management. Kyril wants to mould the club like Bayern Munich, well when he turns the club financially around hope he knows they spent 153 million on transfers last year.
We all know we are a selling club, but you have to spend the profit on progressing the squad not weakening it. The structure is there now to progress the club, let’s not waste it with bad decisions on players. Selling Stewart will be a bad decision not just for his goals, because where will we find a player with his workmate and attitude?
The January transfers will be crucial to the future of the club fingers crossed we get it right.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Cheers for writing in as always, Mark. You’re right that January will be a big month for us, but what transfer window isn’t a big one? Another centre forward is probably on the wish list, and they have a whole recruitment department to work on this task.
If we sell Ross Stewart, then I’m pretty sure we’ll get the best price we can for him and it’s also pretty clear that the plan is to reinvest profits from player sales in the rest of the squad. This has been the essence of every statement the hierarchy have made regarding the “model” at the club.
You ask “where will we find another player like him?”, well, we found a player like him in the first place, so the best guess I have is that we’ll look to repeat that process once again. Did you know who Ross Stewart was before we signed him? Nah, me neither.
And as for Ellis Simms, on Saturday he looked to me like a young lad on his way back from injury and this idea that he’s “not interested” is a strange one - he looked more than interested when he was heavily involved in both goals against Huddesfield.
Who know’s what’s going to happen over the next few months, but I’m clear on one thing, the club cannot and should not gamble upon breaking it’s wage structure for one player. And we shouldn’t go splashing multiple millions around in the search for a replacement either unless the resale value is going to be there.