Quinn questions stay-away fans
Niall Quinn has blasted those supporters who watch Sunderland in the pub rather than at the ground.
Last Updated: 04/02/11 6:25pm
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn has blasted those supporters who watch games in the pub rather than at the ground.
Overseas satellite broadcasts of Premier League games have hit the headlines this week, with the showing of live fixtures currently illegal in this country.
Some feel that is wrong, with a non-binding legal opinion offer to the European Court of Justice earlier this week by Advocate General Juliane Kokott suggesting EU citizens should not legally be stopped from using foreign equipment and subscriptions to view the matches.
Quinn, though, is a supporter of the rules, with clubs relying on turnstile income to keep the coffers ticking over.
He understands that the unstable economic climate has hit supporters hard, but he believes too many are happy to take the easy option of watching the game on TV rather than in the stands.
He said: "I would never criticise anyone who doesn't come to the stadium because of financial constraints, but I despise those who spend far more than the price of a ticket watching some overseas commentator describing the action at the nearby Stadium of Light."
Quinn added: "Contrary to the opinion of the Advocate General, the illegal showing of Saturday 3pm fixtures involving Sunderland has an extremely detrimental effect on our attendances at the Stadium of Light.
"I can point to the evidence uncovered by an agency who covertly visited pubs and clubs in our catchment area and witnessed thousands watching the illegal broadcasts.
"My belief is a significant number of these people are taking the easy option of spending their money in the pub watching their team as opposed to supporting their team and helping to create a better atmosphere at the Stadium.
"Our attendances are down for a couple of reasons and the economic uncertainty right now is a factor.
"All clubs thrive on full stadiums. Loud, passionate support is the backbone of football and when our stadium is full, we are a force to be reckoned with.
"I know this first-hand - when I was a player, we could beat teams from the second they walked out of the tunnel, the atmosphere was so intimidating."
Sunderland welcomed Chelsea to Wearside on Tuesday, but there were still some 10,000 empty seats at the Stadeium of Light for the visit of the reigning Premier League champions.
Quinn added: "To anyone watching the game illegally in the pub, I will continue to say by doing so, you are not supporting your team, you are actually damaging the progress of the club.
"We have a real chance here to make this club feel great again, but to do it, we need everyone behind us.
"I would urge these people in the pubs and clubs to come back to the Stadium of Light.
"We have made a commitment to keeping our prices realistic, with our match tickets 50 per cent cheaper than some clubs, so we are doing what we can to make it as easy as possible for people to come and support their team.
"And I reiterate, despite this opinion yesterday, it is still illegal to show games in this fashion."