Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Desert the Cats ( Murray

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Don't Desert the Cats ( Murray

Article excerpt

Byline: By Stuart Rayner

Sunderland supporters have been urged not to wait for the club's ownership to be resolved before committing to a new season ticket.

Chairman Bob Murray has written to existing season ticket holders pleading with them not to hold off renewing until the consortium led by Niall Quinn completes what is expected to be the drawn-out process of buying his controlling stake in the club.

It could be well into pre-season before the matter is resolved and the club, almost pounds 40m in debt, needs to maintain its cashflow in the interim.

With a new manager unlikely to be appointed before that is resolved, and even the buying and selling of players likely to prove problematic until then, there is a danger the club could be left in paralysis by the current uncertainty.

Murray is anxious to ensure that does not happen, hence his letter to the fans.

"While these discussions (with Quinn's consortium) continue in the coming weeks, the club must continue its normal commercial activities," Murray stressed to the supporters.

"This means we cannot wait for the outcome of this process before commencing season ticket renewals for the new season."

Rumours persist that Martin O'Neill is Quinn's choice as the club's next manager and, while the Ulsterman's appointment would be a huge coup for supporters ( no doubt prompting a rash of season ticket sales ( they are probably canny enough not to believe the former Leicester City and Celtic manager will be coming to Wearside until they see it.

Murray acknowledges he is asking a lot of the supporters after a dismal season in which the club was relegated with a mere 15 points ( the lowest total in top-flight history.

Even more disappointing was the club's home record. It took until the final league game of the campaign, against Fulham, for Sunderland to finally claim three points in front of their own fans.

"I appreciate your loyalty has been severely tested in recent months and I am truly sorry you have been let down in this way," Murray wrote.

"I share your frustration with the last season. I have taken my share of criticism and I acknowledge that. …

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