‘Utter disgrace’, ‘Pure legend’ – Many Sunderland fans react as club legend looks set to depart

Sunderland have today welcomed new signing Arbenit Xhemajli to the club from Swiss club Neuchâtel Xamax, with a ‘six-figure’ compensation package agreed.

Whilst that is some good news for supporters starved of positivity in recent months, there is another saga rumbling away under the hood at the Stadium of Light which looks set to get supporters up in arms once more.

It’s around their long-serving kit man John Cooke, who has served the Black Cats for 25 years. Like much non-playing staff, he was put on furlough when Covid kicked in and has so far not returned to action. In his absence, Stephen Aziz has carried out kitman duties for pre-season friendlies and it seems as though Cooke could be on his way out.

The situation was first raised by former Sunderland boss Peter Reid on Twitter, who claimed that Cooke was being eased out of his job, but was ‘great at his job and a diamond of a lad’. The story was then picked up on by the Chronicle, who reported Cooke was still officially on furlough.

We’ve already posed the question as to whether clubs should be spending transfer fees whilst staff are on furlough, which is exactly what Sunderland have done today, but that’s a debate for another time. The question is whether Cooke is indeed on his way out of Sunderland and whether that is a fair end to such long and dignified service.

These fans certainly made their feelings known about the treatment of a club institution.


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