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Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Sunderland should resist the urge to cash in on Jack Clarke in January”

It’s a packed RR mailbox today, with thoughts on Clarke’s future, the Stadium of Light spectator experience, and the ongoing debate about refereeing performances! Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

There are currently a fair number of predicable media reports about the potential sale of Jack Clarke for £15 million.

We all expect this, but what would Sunderland’s stance be, and what do other fans think?

I for one would be completely against it.

All clubs basically formulate their squads for the season ahead, and if Sunderland are still in with a shout of a top six place in January, we’d be mad to willingly undermine the strength of our squad.

My message to Kristjaan Speakman & Kyril Louis-Dreyfus: is don’t do it!

Dave Parkinson

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Dave. Thanks for your letter.

I agree that we need to do everything in our power to retain Clarke’s services for the entirety of this season at the very least.

If we don’t get promoted and there’s still Premier League interest in him next summer, that’s a different scenario and the hope would be for us to stand firm and drive a very hard bargain if he does decide to leave.

He’s an absolutely brilliant player. He’s developed enormously since he first arrived, and it would surely take an offer in the region of £30 million to persuade us to sell. He's that good.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Why has the Stadium of Light’s disabled entrance been changed?

It’s leading to large queues of people waiting to get in, and my husband, who is an amputee, a season ticket holder and uses walking sticks to enable him to sit in a seat, can’t stand for a long time in a line to gain access when we get inside.

We have to shout so people don’t barge into him, almost knock him down or simply won’t move to allow him to get through to take his seat.

Shirley McQuillan

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Shirley. Thanks for getting in touch and for highlighting this particular issue.

It’s always upsetting to hear about instances of disabled supporters not being able to fully enjoy themselves at home games due to issues with accessibility and in some cases, the behaviour of their fellow supporters.

The club really needs to stay on top of it and ensure that everyone who watches the Lads play at home can do so safely and without fear of being injured.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One - Stadium of Light Photo by Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I’d like to reply to Colin’s comments about the stewarding at the Stadium of Light.

The anti-social behaviour is being dealt with slowly but surely, and there are numerous stewards on duty, which has reduced the number of cases of such behaviour.

It would help immensely if supporters would obey the conditions of the ground regulations and do as they’re told or requested to do immediately, instead of backchatting and arguing with staff.

Regarding the point about vaping and smoking, the club doesn’t allow anyone to go outside to partake in this activity, and rightly so.

Cameras can’t be placed in the toilets for obvious reasons but I reiterate: if fans obeyed the rules instead of being so selfish, your journey to the toilet would be smoke-free.

Malcolm Donnison

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Malcolm. Thanks for your letter.

Your point about cooperation and everyone obeying the rules during games is possibly the crux of this issue.

Everyone enjoys home games in different ways, but when lines are crossed and it descends into anti-social behaviour, which often leads to situations where supporters don’t feel safe, that’s where we have to take a stand.

It’s the only way to preserve the stadium as a safe place for everyone.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

In League One, we had some pathetic referees who gave bad decisions but I and more than 100,000 fans worldwide expected better referees in the Championship.

So far, there have been one or two who weren’t up to scratch but where did Jarred Gillett come from?

I’ve seen better at a U11s game! Let’s face it: I swear, you swear and referees swear, but that doesn’t mean you should at any time.

All the fans agree that Gillett tried to be a prima donna, although one or two Middlesbrough players deserved more than a yellow card, so maybe his grandmother had a bet on Boro to win 0-4.

Will Gillett be allowed to referee the game when we visit the Riverside Stadium or when we play Leicester? Hopefully he’ll be ill for a week or more.

Bill Calvert

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Bill. Thanks for getting in touch.

Personally, my anger towards Gillett has faded now, although his ‘me, me, me’ approach towards refereeing that game will live long in the memory, I’m sure.

The frustrating thing is that he could officiate more Sunderland games as the season goes on, and for all we know, his performance could be excellent.

It’s the inconsistency that’s so frustrating, and I sincerely hope that the next time we’re refereed by the Australian whistler, he turns in a performance of a higher standard than he did last weekend. He won’t be on too many Mackem Christmas card lists in the meantime.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Now that the dust has settled, I think it’s worth considering the most important portion of the audience on Saturday.

In ten years’ time, the only people who’ll remember it will be a handful of people in Yorkshire. However, thousands of children will know that you shouldn’t swear at a referee and I think that’s the most important takeaway from Saturday.

If we can change the attitudes at grassroots level, we’ll have a game more akin to rugby in a generation’s time, where perhaps fans could mix.

That would be my ideal, because I don’t care for the tribal nature of the game and the abuse.

Tim Deehan

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Tim. Thanks for your letter.

The point you make about the importance of players keeping their cool on the pitch and not getting into confrontations with the officials is key, because as overzealous as Jarred Gillett was, Dan Neil really needed to remain calm in that situation, and he’ll hopefully do so in the future.

We all know that referees have a very tough and often thankless task, and there needs to be a collaborative effort to ensure the standards are maintained.

It’s easy to see why supporters of all teams are left feeling immensely frustrated after such games, but you’re right in that it starts at the very bottom of the game. It’s certainly something to consider, moving forward.

Sunderland v Middlesbrough - Sky Bet Championship Photo by MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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