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.
Have you tried our Sunderland Match Attax Quiz yet?
Stewart Donald is a conman and needs to go like ASAP ! Before he does anymore damage to our famous club ?????
— Shaun Middleton (@ShaunMiddleto66) September 1, 2020
I heard he’s not been in since they started back , absolute joke the decision they have made with cookie pure gent , pure legend ??
— darren williams (@dazzawill28) September 1, 2020
If a takeover happens at any point then surely the fans can make a fuss to get the bloke his job back. He's an absolute legend at our club?
— Dean Lamb (@Chubfubbler) September 1, 2020
Club is utter disgrace. So this dies the surprise me at all
— Andrew Malcolmson (@podmundo) September 1, 2020
So sad if it is true; always did more than was asked of him, not his salary that is dragging the club back, 1 less transfer fee, 1 less player or 1 less agent fee and you can keep those people who have a safc heartbeat. Good luck Jay, your dad will be a great 'pathway' guide.
— mark blackbourne (@MarkBlackbourne) September 4, 2020
vital money saved etc etc. Our club has been treading water under Arthur Daley but is slowly sinking into the abyss
— G.firstname.lastname@example.org (@Gcrightonyahoo2) September 1, 2020
Gaffer cookie has been part of the club for years part of the institution of SAFC I hope this is not true. He is an amazing bloke and an amazing kit man.
— COLIN LYNCH (@COLINDLYNCH) September 1, 2020
House is up for sale in village.. not seen him walking around for months.. shame if true as he has given his life to our club…
— Paul (@paul666g) September 1, 2020