Sunderland fans raise more than £30k for charity with Papa John's Trophy final virtual tickets

A Sunderland fans’ charity drive ahead of next month’s Papa John’s Trophy final has raised more than £34,000 – with more than a little help from the club’s former chairman.

Sunderland AFC take on Tranmere Rovers at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, March 14.

But the coronavirus lockdown means there will be no repeat of the scenes two years ago when thousands of supporters took over Covent Garden and Trafalgar Square ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy and Play-off finals.

Fans can still get their hands on a special souvenir of the big day, however – and help a range of worthy causes into the bargain instead.

Wembley will be empty next month

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Lifelong fan Peter Richardson came up with the idea of letting people buy a virtal ticket, which was then picked up by supporters’ groups Red and White Army, the Senior Supporters Association and Sunderland AFC Branch Liaison Council who teamed up with the club and its official charity, the Foundation of Light.

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And in just three days, the scheme has raised more than £34,000 – including £4,500 from former chairman Stewart Donald.

Now the target has been raised to £73,000 .

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Fans will be stuck at home this time

An update on the fund-raising page yesterday said: “This is simply amazing...we've smashed through £30,000 and we're now over £34,000 and rising.

"Thank you so much to each and every one of you how has donated, shared on social and supported the project.

“A few fans have suggested setting the new target to £73,000 - you asked, so we've done it.

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"Amazing idea!”

All donations will be split between the Foundation of Light, the Salvation Army, Sunderland Foodbank and Washington Mind as part of the #SunderlandTogether campaign to provide support during the pandemic and tackle challenges including rising food poverty, increased social isolation among older people, poor mental health and rising unemployment.

Fans can make donations via a dedicated page at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/sunderland-together!, where they can purchase mementos from as little as £5 for an e-ticket, with printed keepsakes available for £10.

Businesses can also get involved by purchasing a Red and White hospitality package for £100, which includes 10 printed commemorative tickets for staff or clients.

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Everyone who donates will be entered into a draw to win signed Sunderland AFC merchandise and other exciting prizes.

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