Sunderland director Charlie Methven has labelled supporters who watch illegal streams of matches "parasites" as he continues to confront the club’s fan base.
Methven, a public relations expert, came in alongside new owner Stewart Donald, who took over from the much-maligned Ellis Short ahead of the 2018-19 season. The north-eastern club endured a second successive relegation last season, dropping out of the Championship and into League One in a campaign when they were expected to push for an immediate return to the top flight.
And despite his experience in PR, Methven made no attempt to mince his words when discussing certain sections of the Black Cats’ support.
“If you’re a fanatic of your football club and you decide, actually what you’re going to do is you’re going to spend your money on a few pints of lager and watch an illegal stream of the match rather than contributing that money to trying to help your club to be the best it probably can, you’re not a fan, you’re a parasite,” he said to BBC Newcastle.
He reasoned that Sunderland match-day tickets were reasonably priced and voiced his displeasure with fans that spend their money elsewhere instead of supporting the club financially by attending games.
“When you average them out, it can be about £12 per ticket. I don’t buy that there are people who are poor enough to not be able to afford that but are rich enough to be able to afford to go to pubs and drink in there.”
This is not the first time Methven has publicly criticised supporters, having previously voiced his disappointment with those that leave matches early, rather than staying to support their side through to the full-time whistle.
Sunderland currently sit third in League One, three points off table-topping Peterborough and two behind Portsmouth as the Black Cats look to return to the Championship at the first time of asking.