Jake: reason to be cheerful

Jake: reason to be cheerful

Sunderland AFC has effectively confirmed to Salut! Sunderland that it is considering the possibility of scrapping the Premier Rate phone numbers, otherwise known as ripoff lines, that hit fans in the pocket when they call the SoL – without producing significant income for the club.

That, at least, is my interpretation – a fair one, I think – of the club’s response to questions I posed earlier this week.

According to the West Ham fan site ClaretandHugh, the Hammers management has bowed to its pressure to abandon such 68p per minute lines, leaving Sunderland, Burnley and Crystal Palace as the only Premier League clubs still using them.

The West Ham development sets the scene for the SAFC response to Salut! Sunderland so I will give that first …

ClaretandHugh understands the club are to make an official announcement next week to scrap the use of the unpopular Premium rate telephone numbers.

The move follows a campaign led by us which saw over 1,600 supporters sign an online petition calling for an end to the expensive telephone services. Many supporters have previously complained of massive mobile telephone bills after calling the Premium rate number which can cost up to 68p per minute for over an hour when trying buy or upgrade tickets.

But now many of these charges should be a thing of the past after senior management found a way to get out of their existing telecoms contract. West Ham were one of 20 clubs in the top two divisions to continue use of these numbers. Two years ago, it was 31 out of 44 clubs in the top two tiers of football ripping off their fans. West Ham’s move will leave 19 to change their ways.

Clubs receive a fraction of the 68p per minute charge coughed up by fans with up to 55p per minute going to the mobile operator and a further 6p going the premium rate telephone provider, leaving the club with 7p per minute or less. Well done West Ham! Thanks for listening! A positive piece of news for many supporters.

Monsieur Salut then put four questions to Stadium of Light management, promising no publication of the above without allowing a reasonable time for reply.

My questions:

1) are you aware – if it is the case – that SAFC are one of only three Premier League clubs still using Premier rate phone lines?

2) In which circumstances are these lines used and have you done any research to produce a comparison of the cost of calling them vs standard rates for conventional phone numbers?

3) While the club has an obvious need to maximise income from all sources, what is the specific justification for using this controversial means of doing so?

4) Is SAFC reviewing the position in the light of the decision of West Ham and , apparently, the vast majority of PL clubs to ditch what the West Ham site among others calls ‘ripoff numbers’?

And the reply from the club’s media and communications office:

Thanks for the information, much appreciated. The issue is something we are aware of and [we] are looking at alternatives

I am happy with that brief comment. Detailed answers were not strictly necessary and, in a few words, the club has more or less confirmed that it, too, is considering following the example of others.

Sounds like a result to me …

And for Salut! Sunderland’s essential buildup to SAFC-Arsenal, go to the home page and check out the items you see …

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

M Salut, drawn by Matt, colouring by Jake

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by – and principally for – supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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