RAWA launches petition for Ellis Short to find reputable buyer for SAFC

This is an open letter to SAFC from the Red and White Army, Independent Supporters’ Organisation.

Sign our petition

It is somewhat of an understatement to say we Sunderland fans are not happy. For too long now we have suffered increasingly poor football, record-breaking poor results, a carousel of managers and a host of players who have not been up to the task or have given minimal effort. In too many cases ‘you’re not fit to wear the shirt’ has never been more apt. It’s felt like a gradual, painful demise; a death by a thousand cuts.

We have an absent owner who no longer takes pride in our grand, old club. We find ourselves abandoned at the bottom of the Championship, on course to plummet into League One following two successive relegations. We are experiencing our lowest attendances since the opening of the Stadium of Light, with many fans now staying away to avoid more misery. Many supporters will not return until the current regime ends.

Ellis Short might be ‘propping up’ the business and still ‘writing cheques’ to cover deficits, but as of now, Short is doing the very minimum he can as an owner of a football club. When all is said and done this is a mess of his making, so forgive us supporters if we’re not gushing with gratitude for the money that has been wasted during the last decade.

Do us a favour Mr Short — sell. Make it your number one priority to source a reputable buyer and go.

Many loyal supporters debate the merit of demos and protests. Others talk of apathy and frustration. The match day experience is unrecognisable. Thousands of supporters have understandably given up and no longer bother. Sunderland supporters are a humble bunch, and we do not feel our club has a divine right to play at any particular level. This is about more than league position. It feels like Sunderland AFC has lost its soul, and with it we’ll lose a generation of supporters.

There may have been a period in which Ellis Short was enamoured of SAFC, but that time has long passed. By contrast our infatuation lives on, almost 140 years strong, a never-ending blessing and curse. Owners come and owners go. We’re Sunderland ‘til we die.

We are a club steeped in tradition with its fair share of glory and pain, but through thick and thin this club has had a heartbeat, a lifeblood that is as passionate as they come. We are not the tatty, discarded plaything of a frustrated and disillusioned billionaire, who no longer finds novelty in owning a football club.

We call upon Sunderland AFC supporters far and wide to Sign our petition and tell the world what is happening to our football club. In our petition:

  • We demand that Ellis Short makes every endeavour to find a reputable buyer for the football club he no longer wants. Produce a business case for potential buyers, and treat SAFC with the same respect that a successful businessman would a going concern.
  • We request that if Ellis Short cannot find a reputable buyer himself, employ someone to do it for him.
  • In the meantime, we ask for transparency, honesty and regular communication between the owner and supporters.

The Red and White Army is an independent supporters organisation that aims to represent Sunderland supporters through structured dialogue with SAFC. Together, supporters are stronger. You can join the Red and White Army for free at redandwhitearmy.co.uk

Update 16/01/17 – Meeting with SAFC Chief Executive, Martin Bain

Tonight RAWA and other Sunderland supporter groups met with SAFC Chief Executive, Martin Bain, and other Club reps. In the meeting we discussed structured dialogue going forward as well as the club’s unfavourable financial situation. Minutes of this meeting will be posted ASAP.

News Update

When RAWA launched we introduced some of the group’s co-opted representatives. We also invited members to put themselves forward as a new co-opted representative if they felt they could improve our diverse representation of SAFC supporters. All those co-opted will attend and vote at committee meetings along with our Chair, Vice Chairs, Treasurer, Secretary and Policy Co-ordinator. We’re delighted to introduce our most recently co-opted reps:

Shaun Dowd – Family Zone

Shaun moved to Sunderland in 1991 and ‘slowly caught the affliction that is supporting Sunderland from his wife and her family’. Having attended both Roker Park and the Stadium of Light, Shaun sees supporting Sunderland as a family affair, and is currently a season ticket holder in the Family Zone along with his three children. “I feel passionate about the idea of all fans having a voice through the RAWA,” Shaun explained. “Because ultimately, the club has a diverse fan base that needs to have the best possible supporter experience. Football and SAFC are at the heart of many a Sunderland Family. Parents and children alike have, for generations, shared in the delight and disappointment that comes from being Sunderland fans; I genuinely believe that over the years SAFC have been a strong family club. It’s really important that we retain and protect that identity going forward. For those reasons, it is essential that the Family Zone is represented.”

Ian Crowe – Pure Football, SMB

Ian has had a season ticket for 28 consecutive years and went to his first match in 1980, and remembers the 1987/88 3rd Division, when he fell in love with SAFC, Roker Park, and Marco. He attends all home matches and most away games. Ian, who was recently elected by the message board said “I’m proud to represent Sunderland’s largest message board and whilst there is a wide range of views on there I think it’s important the colourful debates on the board are represented in RAWA in some capacity. I’ll also be keeping the board up to date with developments. I’ve spoken to one or two who kick-started RAWA and wanted to get involved once I heard about how they intend to approach regular dialogue with the club”

James Laws – Under 18s

James Laws became involved with the RAWA after he attended our inaugural members’ meeting in October at just 15 years old. James is a passionate SAFC fan and believes it is imperative that young supporters are represented: “I’ve supported Sunderland my whole life and was introduced to football by my dad, who used to write about SAFC for the Sunderland Echo. He died in 2011 and I’ve had a season ticket ever since. I feel it’s very important for there to be a youth rep in RAWA. Never before has there been an opportunity to put forward the issues raised by someone in my age group. The RAWA offers a chance for all different kinds of fans to have our voices heard, which is why I was eager to get involved.”

Gordon Armstrong – Former Player’s Representative

Supporters of a certain age will know all about Gordon’s gloriously headed goal against Chelsea in 1992 that put Sunderland through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Those too young to have been there will no doubt be sick of older fans talking about it. Gordon was a fantastic servant of the club clocking up 349 appearances in just over ten years, becoming one of the top ten appearance makers in the Club’s history. “A healthy, honest dialogue between SAFC and its passionate supporters can only be a good thing. The Red and White Army are having a good go at becoming a large, representative and professional supporters’ organisation. As an ex player and local lad, when they asked me to get involved I was more than happy to do so.”