“Niall Quinn plans several meetings with fans across the region’s pubs to clarify his comments on fans watching foreign television”– The South Shields Gazette
Minutes of Meeting
Venue: Dawdon Miners Welfare Social Club
Attendees: Niall Quinn, Chairman. Steve Walton, Chief Executive. Selected fans. People watching events through choppy internet stream: not recorded.
*Quinn began the evening by thanking those who have attended and stating what an important issue he felt the one that they were here to discuss was. He stated his hope that those there agreed with him and would work with him in preserving the club’s fortunes and making use of their grand potential. Though primarily here to discuss attendances at the Stadium of Light, Quinn welcomed the opportunity to expand any discussion in to a larger look at Sunderland’s place in modern day English football and hoped that the meeting would prove to be ultimately productive in steering the club towards a happier future.
*A patron of the pub entering through the back door asked if they were putting the Champions’ League on in here. Quinn suggested he tried the upstairs lounge.
*Quinn stated that since Elis Short’s full takeover in 2009 crowds have not been to the level which he expected and proposed reasons why this might be. He believes one of the problems is the ease of accessing football through the internet, the effect of which will prove harmful in the long run.
*A fan suggested he protected against that possibility by installing a basic spyware package you can pick up for pennies nowadays. Another fan stated that he only goes on websites which don’t require you to fill in a survey before beginning to watch. Both fans agreed that My2p2 is probably your best bet going forward.
*Quinn suggested that it isn’t only people watching on the internet at home which are harming attendances. The amount of pubs in Wearside showing live Sunderland games is leading many to sacrifice going to games in favour of watching it at their local.
*Patron came back downstairs and confirmed that the match was being shown upstairs, but only on the little television. He asked how much longer this was going to take.
*Quinn stated that while Sunderland’s on pitch fortunes have been improving, the crowds off it have not been keeping up. This is obviously not a sustainable business model and if it continues the club may well be forced to sacrifice their big stars, such as Asamoah Gyan and Phil Bardsley. Quinn understands watching football can be expensive, but the club have offered all manner of offers for supporters to help them with the costs.
*A fan suggested that these initiatives aren’t publicised well enough. Quinn said that the club’s website is constantly being updated with information of this nature. The fan said he can’t access the website after downloading a corrupted fileshare programme. Quinn suggested they try and avoid this avenue of conversation again.
*Patron wondered if it was possible to get any sort of service around here.
*A member of the floor wondered if it not just a simple case of fans enjoying going to the pub more than the game. He said he always likes having a pint at half time and to do that you have to leave your seat five minutes before half time, where you find you can’t even watch the game on the television. Quinn answered that this was a conscious decision on the club’s part to boost support to the team for the entire ninety minutes. The member of the floor stated that he hadn’t been talking about watching Sunderland’s game. Quinn vowed to look in to have Newcastle United games played on the televisions in the concourse but could make no promises.
*Patron asked if anybody had a light he could borrow. He also wanted to know if anybody else had heard a cheer from those upstairs watching the football and further ruminated on what implications that could have for the score line.
*A member of the floor asked Quinn if he ever paid himself in to football ground and, if he hadn’t, whether this negated his self-appointed role of telling others how to spend their money. Quinn confirmed that he had been in conversations like this before and understood other’s anxieties. But stated that just as he believed sanctioning Roy Keane to spend 6.5 million pounds of the club’s money on George McCartney in 2008 had been the right thing to do and in the club’s long term interests, so he feels are these meetings.
*Some sighing from the floor.
*Quinn thanked those for the opportunity to speak to them and stated again how important he felt the region’s support is in helping Sunderland achieve the potential he believes is deep lying in the club and in danger of remaining dormant. He offered to take any further questions from the floor.
*Patron asked if he knew the Wi-Fi password so he could at least check the score. Quinn confirmed he didn’t. Member of floor could have sworn it ended in a ‘1234’. Another member mused that that didn’t seem right.
*The meeting was adjourned.