Dear Roker Report,
At first sight, on seeing your headline ‘Sunderland AFC v Real Mallorca’ I was stunned!
I was a staunch Roker Ender for many years (from about 1957), and have lived in Mallorca for the past 27 years. We love football and have been season ticket holders here at Real Mallorca now for 14 years.
This was my dream fixture – even if it was ‘just a friendly’ (better tell Maffeo that!).
We decided to come over to watch the game. Now you would think that getting tickets would be straightforward. No way!
We tried Real Mallorca, who apparently had to wait for the ticket office at the Stadium of Light to deliver, which they did eventually. We received the details on Friday night when we were already in the UK.
I tried to contact the ticket office at Stadium by phone. I was cut off.
I emailed twice as initially I was dismissed as a ‘bot’ (I had to look that up. I’ve been called worse!). Still no joy.
My younger stepson volunteered to source the tickets and this was done on the Wednesday.
So, I can empathise with a lot of the comments that I’ve read here regarding the customer service at Sunderland.
To the match.
Tony had the tickets on his phone. We weren’t sure that we could transfer them to ours so we made our way to the turnstiles, which in my opinion are dangerous antiques of a by-gone age.
They are too cramped and dark!
The stewards were very helpful but are filled with dread and foreboding and are not looking forward to forthcoming fixtures and problems that they perceive with the system!
Mallorca have been using a similar system for – plastic cards and mobiles. Not a problem as there is a steward in attendance at EVERY access.
We eventually gained access by passing his phone backwards and forwards through the ‘Iron Maiden’, of a gate, this was greeted by good humour by the queue behind us – thank God!
The concourse, a dark and dingy area, and no Stottie cake sarnies to be had !!! Shame on you SAFC.
We’ve been to worse grounds in La Liga, but we’ve been to a lot better, too.
The “rake“ of the seating is not steep enough – the height between rows should be greater as even when spectators two or even three rows below us were leaving or arriving (late), our view was obstructed.
More importantly, the stairs are just not wide enough to cope with the volume of fans!
At half time, they were a heaving mass of people immobile as the entrance to the concourse was also blocked. Not good, not safe, and not stewarded at all or policed properly. Good job at 76 years old I’ve got a strong bladder!
The club would lose a few seats but these steps should be widened before there’s an accident.
Finally, it was great to be there, but as you can see from the above, it was a struggle. The fans that we chatted to were lovely, even if they were a bit bemused by our attire, a mixture of both sets of scarves and shirts because of our divided loyalties and the fact that we’d even bothered to come over for a friendly!
I look forward to performances on the field with optimism. These players have a great opportunity to show their skills and abilities and, together with Tony and his team to take this league by the scruff of the neck and bring joy back to the Stadium of Light.
As for the other issues that I and others are now discussing – get it sorted!
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Thanks for the email John, and for sharing your experiences of your visit to the Stadium. I think that because of the absolute disaster zone that is – deep breath – the strips, club shop, general marketing and merchandise and ticketing – the state of the Stadium gets overlooked. When you attend regularly you get used to it, but when you come with fresh eyes as you have done, things stand out. It’s almost 30 years old now, and it’s showing its age, both in appearance and those safety and experience factors you mention. Hopefully, the club will address it soon and upgrade the place where it can be done, however given they can’t even manage to order enough shirts for supporters to buy I don’t hold out a great deal of hope.
Dear Roker Report,
Well, I’m sunning myself in the Canaries – not Norwich, but the Islands.
I’m nigh on 70 years old and have supported the club through every turmoil, but the latest is all this crap we the supporters are going through.
KLD – please, please get a grip of your backroom management, and either get rid or give them a big kick up the @$$.
They are totally ruining the off-pitch side of things.
SAFC must have one of the biggest followings outside of the Premier League, and yet do nothing to improve the supporter relationship with club. If anything, it is destroying it.
We are and we can become the big club you dreamed of – so please do something about it so we can be.
One totally peed-off supporter.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Hope you’re enjoying the sun, Paul! All of this off-field incompetence is a disgrace really, and while KLD deserves enormous amounts of praise for how the footballing side of things has been transformed over the past couple of years, he deserves criticism for the general patheticness off the field.
People might brush it off as unimportant, but here’s the thing. We’re going to lose young supporters to Newcastle because of it. You can’t buy a Sunderland shirt in Sunderland. We are making it incredibly difficult to buy merchandise and tickets. Newcastle are going to go from strength to strength over the next few years, and we’re going to find it increasingly difficult to compete with them on the field. The only place we can compete with them is off the field – but we’re giving them a completely free pass at present.
If we don’t rectify it now, we face the prospect of becoming an after thought in a couple of generations time – that might seem like an exaggeration, but to my mind, that’s how important this is to resolve.