Chief Executive Officer Jim Rodwell and Non-Executive Director Tom Sloanes met with representatives of various supporters’ groups at the Stadium of Light on Friday.
Members of the Red & White Army, the Branch Liaison Council, the Supporter Liaison Group and the Senior Supporters’ Association were in attendance to discuss a wide range of topics.
The groups provided comprehensive and constructive feedback regarding 2020-21 season card renewals, while also sharing the views of their members on what has led to the current disconnect between the club and its supporters.
Speaking to safc.com, Rodwell admitted that mistakes have been made and moved quickly to address them, while also underlining the importance of working with supporters in order to rebuild trust in the club.
“We want to build some bridges and a vitally important part of that is listening to our supporters, so I’d like to start by extending my thanks to the people that gave up their time to meet with Tom and I at such short notice.“The dialogue in Friday’s meeting was honest and open, and it gave me a far greater understanding of what this football club, and its supporters, are all about.”
He continued: “When we initially announced our 2020-21 season card plans, our intention was to provide all of our supporters with the opportunity to renew when their personal circumstances allowed.
“This is why we took steps to ensure that those unable to commit at this challenging time retained their seat and loyalty points, and why we also committed to offering part-season cards once the uncertainty surrounding next season was clarified.
“What we failed to take into account was the emotional connection that season cards represent. Many of our supporters have renewed for many years, many decades, and it is part of their identity. This was a mistake and I apologise that we did not take this into consideration.
“After reflecting on Friday’s meeting, we have addressed this and I’m pleased to say that all supporters that have renewed for the 2020-21 season, or purchase a new season card, will receive a pro-rata refund [or a streaming pass] for any games played behind closed doors.
“I appreciate that this will cause considerable inconvenience for those that have already cancelled their season cards, and we apologise for this. We are working closely with Ticketmaster to ensure that should they wish to, fans will simply need to log on to their online account to pay or re-join the Direct Debit scheme.
“The club will provide a further update once this service is up and running, and I would ask our supporters to bear with us whilst we work through the logistics that will ensure the process is as user-friendly and simple as possible.
“Like all clubs, we are in uncharted waters and this is an incredibly challenging time, but we will continue to listen and work with our supporters to ensure that if mistakes are made, they are rectified.
“It is clear that there is an incredible amount of work to be done to restore trust and faith within the club, but I hope supporters will see this as a small example of our willingness to do that and as a positive step in the right direction.”
Further information regarding 2020-21 renewals, including the new Direct Debit deadline and how to restore purchases, will be released in the coming days.