Sunderland have informed their fans that parts of the Stadium of Light will be closed on matchdays as from next season.
With dismal attendances, the decision has been taken to cut costs and at the same time make the stadium not look quite so empty, my moving the remaining fans into fewer sections.
Crowds are regularly announced as in the mid-twenty thousands at Sunderland this season but it has been quite clear that in many/most matches there has been less than twenty thousand in the stadium.
Last season, Aston Villa did the same, as their crowds plummeted, though not quite on the scale of Sunderland’s.
It led to a bizarre situation when Newcastle visited Villa Park, with Aston Villa refusing to give Newcastle more tickets, even though they had large parts of their stadium closed off.
The move by Sunderland has led to estimates that around 12,000/13,000 seats will be in the closed off sections.
Or is that 12,000/13,000 in the parts to remain open…
Sunderland fans have received the following communication from their club today:
‘Thank you for your continued support.
As you may be aware, earlier in the season we ceased the sale of match to match tickets in the Premier Concourse with the aim of increasing fan numbers within the lower bowl and boosting stadium atmosphere.
The decision has now been taken to close the Premier Concourse at the end of this season to both season card holders and match sales, unless demand dictates that additional capacity is required.
We believe that closing the Premier Concourse will help us to improve match atmosphere, whilst also reducing the costs associated with safety stewards and kiosk staff in the area.
However, we recognise the commitment you have shown to Sunderland AFC and this is a loyalty that we intend to honour.
Should you choose to renew your season card for season 2018-19, we will relocate you to any available seat of your choice within the stadium at no additional cost. Your renewal for the new seat will be priced at the same rate as it would have been in Premier Concourse, even if you should choose a seat in a higher price band. Should you select a seat in a lower price band this price will, of course, prevail.
We will guarantee that you pay no more than this renewal price for the following three years. Should the Premier Concourse reopen, we shall ensure you retain first refusal on your original seat.
We also appreciate that many supporters sit with friends and family and that friendships have been forged with season card holders in nearby seats over the years. We will therefore endeavour, wherever possible, to relocate seats together upon request.
All Premier Concourse season card holders will be contacted by telephone to discuss the closure in more detail. The contact details we hold for you are. If you wish us to contact you on an alternate number or these details require to be updated please let us know by emailing [email protected] quoting your name and season card number or by calling our dedicated Premier Concourse number on 0191 551 5101.
You will shortly receive a renewal notification for your seat in the Premier Concourse. Should you wish to renew for the forthcoming season please action as normal. Upon receipt of your renewal you will be invited to an open day at the Stadium of Light where Ticket Office and other staff will be on hand to show you available seats and associated facilities within the main bowl of the stadium and answer any other questions you may have.
We are truly sorry for the disruption this will cause and thank you for your understanding and continued support of Sunderland AFC.’