The owner of Sunderland, a traditional English team that once featured Ki Sung-yueng and Ji Dong-won, has made a critical mistake that has angered fans.

They cheered for their biggest rivals, Newcastle United, and put up a sign that mocked Sunderland’s legendary manager.

Sunderland, one of England’s most storied clubs, is set to host longtime local rivals Newcastle in the third round of the FA Cup. The rivalry is so strong that it’s been dubbed the Tyne-Wear Derby. The rivalry dates back to the English Civil War in 1642. It’s no wonder that Newcastle and Sunderland, two clubs that represent their respective regions, have been rivals since the early 19th century, when English soccer first took off.

However, Sunderland owner Kirill Louis-Dreyfus, a French billionaire who hails from a family of billionaires, has angered Sunderland fans by making a decision that is completely unaware of the sentiment behind the rivalry.

“At Sunderland’s home stadium (the Stadium of Light), the owner placed a sign supporting Newcastle fans directly in the seats of Newcastle’s away fans,” the Daily Mail reported on May 5.

With nearly 6,000 Newcastle fans traveling to Sunderland’s home Stadium of Light for the FA Cup third-round tie, 700 fans would be able to watch the game from the VIP lounge, according to the media. However, there was a problem with the signage in the VIP lounge where Newcastle away fans were allowed to enter and exit.

According to published photos, the signage clearly referenced Newcastle United’s iconic black and white colors, including “We are United” and “Raise the black and white flag high,” which angered many Sunderland fans. In addition, a screen behind the bar in the VIP lounge read ‘Cheer Up Peter Reid’, a sarcastic reference to the former Sunderland manager.

Peter Reid was the club’s manager for seven years, from 1995 to 2002. He started out as a fireman, rescuing Sunderland from the relegation zone of the Second Division and successfully landing them in the Second Division, then winning the Second Division title in the 1995-1996 season, leading them to promotion to the Premier League. Such was the success that Sunderland fans loved him so much that they created a chant called “Cheer Up Peter Reid”.

However, Sunderland fans seem to have taken umbrage with Louis Dreyfus’ blatant disregard for this history and his dismissal of past greats. Sunderland season ticket holder and Sunderland Supporters Association member Joanne Youngson took to social media to blast the club.

According to the ‘Daily Mail’, Youngson wrote: “Crazy. I can understand taking down the red and white (Sunderland’s colors) to keep rivalry feelings to a minimum. But there’s no need to decorate the stadium for Newcastle fans,” he wrote, before firing back at the club, calling it “a real disgrace.”

He also mentioned the age of the owners. Kirill Louis-Dreyfus was born in 1997 and is only 27 years old. For Sunderland fans, it’s hard not to question the owner’s lack of understanding of the team.

“This incident is why I’ve always been suspicious of Kirill,” says Youngson. He has no idea what Sunderland means to the fans,” he said, “in fact, he may not even know the area of Sunderland itself.”

Meanwhile, the club reportedly apologized to fans after witnessing their reaction, saying that they had made a “fatal error in judgment” and immediately put up the signage.

For Sunderland fans, for whom games against rival clubs are very important, the owner’s mismanagement is likely to be very painful. With the hostilities between the two clubs expected to intensify, the FA Cup third round tie between Sunderland and Newcastle is scheduled to kick off at 9:45 p.m. on June 6.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *