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Sunderland’s season cards are about to go digital - a sign of the times, or the wrong move?

Sunderland AFC have announced that season cards will be digital-only from next season, sparking debate amongst supporters over whether it’s the right move or not. What do you think?

Mitch Marshall says...

I think this is, on the whole, a pretty poor move from the club. While couched in the language of customer convenience and environmental sustainability, in my eyes this is yet another move to reduce the administrative burden on an often under-resourced ticket office and outsource this work to online systems which have proven infuriatingly difficult to navigate in the past.

Charging £10 to renew in person gives away the real ambitions of the club with this move in my eyes. Rather than prioritising the customer experience, with many fans presumably preferring to make their biggest annual contribution to the club’s coffers in person, this stinks of over-efficiencies administered by accountants rather than those who engage with fans regularly.

On the sustainability point, printing season cards which fans then keep for years must surely be minute as an environmental issue compared to say, the shoddy plastic cups which the club serves us beer in on a weekly basis. Other clubs I’ve been to, like Chelsea, produce better quality cups which you’re then encouraged to leave at designated pick up points so they can be washed and reused at the next game. Burnley also showed this week that there are loads of other things clubs can do on this, from watering pitches with collected rainwater to banning single-use plastic bottles for players.

If the club were serious about establishing a sustainable long-term relationship with the fan base and the environment, this isn’t what they’d be doing. I think it’s a disappointing kick in the teeth both for some older fans who want to maintain a personal connection with the club and might not be very technologically savvy, and for those who are serious about making football more environmentally conscious.

I doubt it’ll be reversed, but on top of keeping away fans in the upper bowl of the stadium, this feels like another week where the club haven’t listened to the fans.

And that could have lasting effects.

Sunderland v Lincoln City - Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Tom Albrighton says...

Another idiotic decision to facilitate the need of certain club employees to digitalise every aspect of the club.

Whilst clubs have moved to digital-only season tickets these transitions have been far from seamless. With queues around the Stadium of Light almost constantly and no real improvement in the customer experience at the turnstiles for some time, adding digital season tickets to the mix seems a disaster waiting to happen.

Furthermore, the move to digital tickets further ostrasises those fans who are not comfortable or who simply cannot use the associated technology required to access said tickets. Fans should not be punished for not being tech-savvy.

This also affects those who share tickets with family members due to financial or work constraints that restrict them from purchasing a full-price ticket, namely those fans who work away from the area in bulk periods.

Adding additional steps to pledge your support at a time when the club could and should be almost filling out the stadium weekly seems a bit of a fool's errand.

Sunderland Fans Photo by Tom Purslow/Manchester United via Getty Images

Phil West says...

I’m not sold on the idea, and I think it’s got the potential to cause all sorts of problems on match days.

Yes, the club has accepted the need to modernise its ticketing system to bring it into line with many other teams around the country, but we’ve already seen a litany of issues with tickets in recent years, in terms of accessibility and ease of use, and this feels like another idea that, whilst good in theory, could backfire.

My main gripe with this is that it could potentially make life difficult for older supporters who might not have smartphones and therefore rely on physical tickets to enter the stadium.

Holding your plastic card under the scanner is much easier than having to rely on your phone and what if your battery is low, you leave the house and forget to take your phone, or the code simply doesn’t scan and you’re left outside the turnstiles?

These might sound like trivial complaints for those of us who are tech-savvy, but accommodating all supporters needs to be at the forefront of the club’s thinking, and I'm not convinced that's the case here.

Surely consulting the fans and asking their opinion would’ve been a smarter move than simply announcing this without any warning, and I really hope that if the feedback isn’t positive, the club is willing to listen before ploughing ahead with this revamp.

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