SUNDERLAND chairman Niall Quinn has called for greater consideration for fans after the timing of two of his club’s remaining Barclays Premier League fixtures were altered to suit television.
The club’s home clash with Everton, originally planned for Saturday May 2, has been provisionally rescheduled for 12.45pm the same day – and may yet move to the following day with a 4pm kick-off.
But it is the re-arrangement of the club’s trip to Portsmouth from Saturday May 16 to Monday May 18 with an 8pm start which has particularly upset Quinn.
He fumed: “Fixture amendments at such short notice show very little regard for supporters, many of whom will have already made their travel arrangements.
“The Portsmouth change is particularly hard to take.
“Sunderland fans travel to away games in their thousands – and due to our geographical location, they cover hundreds of miles to attend most games. Portsmouth is a round trip of over 700 miles! This is our last away game of the season. Hundreds of fans have already booked hotels, trains, buses – and this will have a huge impact on them financially.”
Sunderland, who find themselves engaged in a fight for top-flight survival with seven games remaining, strongly opposed the latest changes – but ultimately had little choice in the matter.
Quinn said: “There has to be a common sense approach to this.
“Naturally, clubs need the massive investment from TV companies – and this is very much appreciated. But we can’t lose sight of the people that matter the most – the fans.
“Better consideration needs to be given to supporters when games are changed, especially at this stage of the season when clubs want as many fans as possible behind them.”
Meanwhile, Quinn has revealed his club have already sold more than 25,000 season tickets for the 2009-10 campaign, around 2,000 more than at the same stage last year.
He said: “The response from our supporters has been tremendous.
“Season tickets are sold in three phases: the early renewals, which is when the majority of supporters commit, sales over the summer period and part-season tickets available at Christmas.
“This time last season, we had sold in the region of 23,500 season tickets. We have already sold in excess of 2,000 more season tickets than this for next season, which is simply fantastic.
“I would like to thank all of those fans who have shown their commitment and faith in the club.”
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