Future monies pouring into the Premier League from television is in part why Sunderland announced yesterday that as of next season under-16s will be able to buy season tickets for £19 – £1 per home game. It is the most graphic acknowledgement from a top-flight club of the impact made by the credit crunch.
The £19 season ticket has to be bought with an adult season ticket, but the move will potentially cost the club millions in lost revenue. The board's willingness to absorb this, allied to the cushion of the TV deal, means that economically the scheme can be sustained in the short term at least.
There is also the board's awareness of hardship on Wearside, and the belief that the club will win more home games with more fans in the Stadium of Light, where attendances are 3,700 down on last season's 43,300 average.
"Taking the current economy into account we've made a bold and brave decision to sacrifice income in an effort to add strength in numbers," the chairman Niall Quinn writes in today's match programme. "We understand the strains the credit crunch is placing on people's lives. We have a moral responsibility as a club.
"It's no exaggeration to say that we have reached a critical point in our lifespan as custodians of the club. Next year's season-ticket sales will have a big bearing on how our season is defined. When I first came to the club I got a terrific response when I asked lapsed season ticket-holders to back the team again.
"This time I'm asking for more. I'd implore any would-be season ticket-holder to bring a young supporter with them next season almost as a duty to ensure that we enable young fans to be able to come and love this club as existing fans and supporters of bygone years have done."Reuse content