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Can Sunderland win back the fans?

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Usually I shy away from simply reporting the news, but this one is too good not to be repeated.

Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has personally taken responsibility to win back the fans disillusioned by Sunderland’s yo-yoing of the last 4 years. It’s a brave and noble step (even though the roots are based in Niall’s desire to fill the stadium) and one that must be applauded for his honesty and hands-on approach.

Quinn:

“We’re trying to keep our side of the bargain. When I meet people who haven’t come back I say to them that before last summer they said if there was a new regime they’d come back. Then they said if there was a good manager they’d come back, then they said if we signed players they’d come back, then they said if we won games they’d come back.

We’re kind of doing a lot on our side.

I’ve sent these letters out to invite them to ask me about anything that is still bothering them. I’m trying to make them understand that the club is a different place now. Any bad experiences they have had I hope will be erased and we can make them proud of their club again. We kind of get the feeling that it’s going that way, but I need the people.

I called it a reconnection at the start and it has a chance now. We have six evenings arranged, players will be with me, a board member. It’s to show the people that it’s their club again.

They fell out with the club but we want them back, there is a unity and a harmony now. There is a great opportunity to grow and be strong but ultimately we will only be a big club if we have 40,000-plus here every week.

I have had my six months, I know a lot more about the whole ins and outs of what’s required. But I still revert to the one thing: 40,000 crowds and we win more games. It’s not a marketing ploy to get more money in. We’ve given a token rise to our ticket prices to end the eight-year freeze.

We’re very affordable, we have said to the people that if they come next year they come at a Championship price, but we could be in the Premiership. I sound like I’m marketing something but I’m not. The next thing we could do would be to go round their houses and drag them here. We hope people will believe.”

Seeing the chairman get involved personally in the affairs of the club is not always welcome, but Niall has steered away from the day to day running of the club and is focused on winning the supporters back as well as bringing more money into the club. Surely that is far better than other owners, who either choose to stay completely out of the picture, or involve themselves too much in the club’s affairs?

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Ahmed Bilal created Sportslens in 2006. He is a business consultant and entrepreneur who helps businesses identify and overcome their biggest challenges. He’s also the founder of Football Media, an online advertising agency that specialises in sports and male audience targeting, with a monthly reach of 100m+ sports fans in the UK and US. He’s also the previous owner of Soccerlens.com – a sports news site that reaches 3m+ readers / month.