Why it’s perfectly OK to sympathise with Sunderland fans right now…

As you’ll no doubt have heard by this point, Sunderland AFC are in a bit of trouble. Their southern owners have taken and taken from the club and now have left them in a world of trouble financially – with disputes over parachute payment loans making headlines as the club prepare for a third term in the third tier.

Now, as you may expect, Newcastle fans haven’t been particularly sympathetic to the situation – which is to be expected given the intense rivalry. One thing I’ve seen a lot of that has irked me though is United fans being criticised by fellow Mags for daring to show some empathy.

It’s perfectly OK to see this situation and feel bad for those down the road. While they’re our ultimate rivals – this situation is far beyond their control and could cost them their club. If that happens, nobody wins…

Comparisons to the 2016 NUFC Relegation…

One of the primary reasons I’ve seen people quote when having a go at other fans expressing sympathy is that “Sunderland showed no sympathy to us in 2016…”

While that may very well be the case, there’s a stark difference between a club getting relegated to the second tier and a club being quite literally threatened with extinction for reasons far beyond the control of the fans.

Sunderland fans hold up a sign after relegating their rivals ...
Sunderland fans hold up a banner mocking Newcastle following the clubs relegation in 2016

At the end of the day, we’re talking about people’s livelihoods here. Hundreds of Mackem residents work at the club too – and could potentially lose their jobs during one of the most financially uncertain times in the history of our fine country.

As we know better than anyone, football is the primary source of joy we north easterners have in our regular work-a-day lives. For those 90 minutes each weekend, we get to drift away from the repetitiveness of normal life and think about nothing more than football – to deny anyone that privilege seems utterly cruel me.

The Sunderland ownership issue

Again, something we know better than most is the issues that come from having an ownership regime in place who just simply don’t get it. We’ve spent the last 13 years enduring something like that and, although it’s to a much lesser extent, we understand what the Sunderland fans are feeling right now.

We’re very often the first fan-base to say that “you can’t help who owns your club” and the fans “shouldn’t be held responsible for the actions of the owners” – particularly in recent times.

Now, Sunderland are up sh*t creek without a paddle, their owners have taken and taken from the club and left them in a serious hole. It feels important that we remember one thing in this moment in time:

Newcastle United doesn’t succeed by willing our rivals to fail.

We’re not the type of fan-base to will other clubs into administration or liquidation. At the end of the day, football is more than a sport to the people of the north – as the Geordie nation is well aware.

In pictures: Newcastle v Sunderland fan gallery - Chronicle Live
Regardless of the situation and of what I’ve said – there’s no excuse for this shirt…

You may sit there and claim “Well they wouldn’t care if it was us” or “they’d be laughing at us if the roles were reveresed” and, to be honest, you’re probably correct. However, we’ve always prided ourselves on being a better, classier fan-base than they are – why on Earth should we stoop to their level now?

If you feel no sympathy or just don’t care about this then that’s fine – but don’t have a go at other fans who just don’t want to see another historic northern football club fade into nothingness.

In my opinion, the game itself should always come first. We have to uphold the integrity of the sport. By actively mocking and enjoying the potential extinction of another team, we’re taking a massive dump over all of the values of football.

What do you think of the whole situation? I’d love to know your thoughts and how they differ from mine – log in and leave a comment below.

For more like this, visit the opinion page on the site. Meanwhile, drop us a follow on Twitter for more coverage of our favourite soap opera.

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