This is what Kyril Louis-Dreyfus told Sunderland fans about Black Cats Bar debacle - and what's next

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has spoken to fans at a recent supporter collective meeting
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Kyril Louis-Dreyfus has told a meeting of the Sunderland supporter collective that the club will be taking 'serious action' in response to the redecoration of the Black Cats Bar ahead of the FA Cup clash with Newcastle United.

The club chairman has also promised that the steps taken will be communicated 'as transparently as possible' with supporters.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Louis-Dreyfus met with representatives from the Red & White Army, the Branch Liaison Council and the Senior Supporters' Association, with longstanding off-field issues being the primary focus. In an opening statement at the meeting, the Red & White Army group described the arrangements around the cup tie as a 'complete mess', and said that they would consider walking away from engagement with the club should there not be a significant improvement on a number of issues.

The redecoration of the bar, in which Newcastle United slogans were put u[p to greet visiting supporters, made national headlines and was met with huge anger by Sunderland fans. Louis-Dreyfus said a 'serious error of judgement' had been identified in the initial phase of the investigation into what had happened.

The minutes from the meeting read: "KLD replied that stage one [of the investigation] had concluded and that a serious error of judgement has been identified. The Club makes no excuses for this mistake and KLD apologised, adding that the Club needs to take steps to ensure it never happens again. An emergency board meeting was held the evening the pictures of the Black Cats Bar were released. KLD stated the Club will be taking serious action and the outcomes will be communicated as transparently as possible."

The chairman also denied that the decisions around arrangements for the derby were financially motivated, with the minutes stating: "KLD reiterated that the allocation of tickets and financial distribution of revenue was dictated by competition rules and nothing else. SAFC received share of ticket revenue in line with the competition rules. He concluded that it was a tremendous mistake, and the Club needs to take steps to ensure it never happens again."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Chief operating officer Steve Davison discussed the initial decision in greater depth, claiming that the club were unaware that the bar would be rebranded in Newcastle United colours and slogans.

The minutes read: "SD stated that selling tickets to Newcastle fans in the Black Cats Bar was not a consideration when determining allocation and the position of away fans. However, after the allocation and configuration was confirmed and the North Stand deemed the only location, a decision to open and charge Newcastle for usage was made as this area was unable to be used by Sunderland fans. SD noted that Club branding and iconography was present in the space and to ensure it wasn’t damaged the Club agreed with Newcastle to cover these with generic designs and requested for these to be submitted."

He added that 'the club needed to understand the environment in which the decision to brand BCB in black and white was taken.'

Davison also said that the club had not wanted to issue 6,000 tickets to Newcastle fans, which eventually led to home supporters being displaced for the game - another source of considerable discontent.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The meeting saw a huge number of issues discussed, from retail and ticketing all the way through to the Stadium of Light experience. The full minutes, detailing all of those discussions, are available here.

Louis-Dreyfus ended the meeting with the following message for supporters: "KLD expressed his gratitude for the honest and informative feedback fan representatives collated from their members and reiterated his desire for the Club to continue learning and improving. The three-year anniversary of his ownership group taking control of SAFC has just passed and he is proud and grateful for all the work that has been done to start rebuilding the Club, but he reiterated that the process is not complete and further progress must be made. KLD concluded that although this is a challenging moment and he now better understands the recent frustrations experienced by fans, he has never been more excited by the future, and he hopes to experience many more good moments alongside the Club’s supporters."