Sunderland AFC has announced plans to re-name the Stadium of Light’s south stand.
Supporters are to be given an opportunity to name the stand from a short-list of four suggestions from a survey in the summer led by the Sunderland supporters group, Red and White Army (RAWA).
The RAWA have been working closely with Sunderland AFC on a range of initiatives to improve the matchday experience and one thing that was very clear from the comprehensive survey was that supporters felt the Stadium of Light needed a greater sense of identity.
In response to this, Sunderland AFC confirmed that the south stand, which is the stadium’s popular singing end, would be given a new name, to better resonate with supporters, the club and the city.
Chairman of RAWA, Andrew Hird said “When 10,000 supporters complete a survey, you’re naturally going to get a wide range of suggestions an all manner of things, including the naming of stands. However, it was clear that the themes of tradition, history and sense of place were of utmost importance.
“With this in mind we provided a long-list to Sunderland AFC which has led to a shortlist of four names for supporters to choose from. We’re aware you can’t cover all bases when it comes to such a large number of respondents, but we’re very pleased with the collaborative approach the club has taken. The choices are derived from supporter feedback and are consistent with those themes of tradition and heritage”
Sunderland AFC’s executive director Charlie Methven said: “Sunderland both as a club and a city has a strong and proud identity and we want our home, the Stadium of Light, to reflect this.
“Since we came to the club in the summer, putting supporters at the forefront of everything we do was our utmost priority. They are the lifeblood of this football club. Giving our supporters the opportunity to choose the name of the stand is important, this isn’t simply about the club making a decision, it’s about reflecting and actioning the wishes of supporters.
“Our sincere thanks go to the RAWA for all of the fantastic work they have done and continue to do to make the ideas and suggestions of supporters a reality.”
HOW TO VOTE
Supporters can cast their vote at here to choose the south stand’s new name.
The four names on the short-list are: The Roker End, The Wearside End, The Colliery End, and The Raich Carter End.
The Red and White Army (RAWA) has also set a date for the unveiling of a “Five Iconic Captains” mural inside the ground. RAWA have commissioned a professional artist to paint a mural on a large area of the Stadium of Light concourse. The image will be officially unveiled before the Boxing Day game against Bradford.
The original artwork, covering 210 square metres will depict five iconic club captains, spanning generations, over the backdrop of city landmarks and was inspired by suggestion put forward as part of the recent survey.
Paul Nelson of RAWA said “We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to find the right artist, the right image composition and to source funding for the project. We’re keeping the design under wraps for now, so fans can enjoy the full effect when it’s unveiled on 26th December – we can’t wait! But this is just the start – following the unveiling of the mural, we will be launching a crowd-funding campaign to commission more work all around the stadium.”
Notes on stand names:
The Roker End - a homage to Roker Park and the famous Roker Roar, a term still used across football to describe the intense atmosphere Sunderland fans are famous for.
The Wearside End – celebrating the location of the Stadium of Light on the banks of the River Wear which has been a focal point and lifeblood of the city. A nod to the proud history of shipbuilding and other industries founded on the river.
The Colliery End – the Stadium of Light is located on the old Wearmouth Colliery. This name is a tribute to the great mining tradition across the city and wider communities across Durham and South Tyneside.
The Raich Carter End – a name from Sunderland AFC’s glorious past who was Sunderland born and bred. He lifted the FA Cup in 1937 and was the youngest captain to win the First Division title (the equivalent of today’s Premier League).