Chief Executive Officer Jim Rodwell today issued the following statement on behalf of Sunderland AFC to update supporters and stakeholders on club’s position with regards to the completion of the 2019-20 season.
From the moment the campaign was suspended in March, the EFL board has stated that any remaining fixtures should be played once it is safe and practical to do so, thus retaining the integrity of the competition.
There was a time when that looked like it would not be possible, but recent developments have ensured that the season can be completed within the initial timeframe set by the EFL.
Several League One clubs have taken the stance that no further games should be played, and that a currently undetermined formula should be applied to finalise the league table.
SAFC strongly disagree with this view and remain committed to completing the season the right way.
We believe that any league placings should be determined by what happens on the pitch, not in a meeting room and most certainly not in a courtroom.
As a club, we entered the league to determine the best team over 46 games, not 37. That is the premise with which season cards, player contracts and partnerships are agreed.
It is unfortunate that supporters are extremely unlikely to be able to attend our remaining fixtures, but the streaming infrastructure in place at all EFL clubs ensures that we are in a position to fulfil any obligations, both moral and contractual, to our stakeholders.
Like all League One clubs, we therefore have a duty to do so.
We are committed to streaming our remaining home matches for free to all season card holders and this would be extended should the 2020-21 season start behind closed doors.
Fulfilling our remaining fixtures will come at considerable cost, but it sets a deeply concerning precedent for professional football clubs to decide against completing competitions they have entered because they don’t feel like doing so.
Neither fixtures being suspended for public health reasons or matches being played behind closed doors are novel scenarios, but both have happened in the past without clubs opting against fulfilling fixtures and altering competition rules.
The framework for next season is yet to be determined and all clubs will be in a position to contribute to what is put in place, but this season’s rules and regulations are set in stone and all clubs agreed to them before a ball was kicked.
We are determined to ensure players, staff and supporters are afforded the opportunity to see the hard work, sacrifice and loyalty of the past nine months rewarded.
The EFL is a professional league and it now needs to demonstrate the professionalism and obligation that comes with its historic status.