'Can you imagine explaining to a child why the prized picture of him with his hero has to be removed from his bedroom wall? - dad's emotional letter to Sunderland AFC boss

The following is an emotional letter sent to Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne by a fan left distraught by the Adam Johnson case:

Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:50 am
Updated Saturday, 5th March 2016, 9:56 am
Ross Robson, left, has penned an emotional letter to Sunderland chief executive Margaret Byrne.

Ms Byrne,

I write to you (or more likely your PA) as a supporter of over 30 years, a Season Card holder and the father of an eight-year-old Season Card holder.

I am writing to you to express my dismay and alarm at some of the facts reported in the trial. Earlier this week, it was alleged that the club, and in particular you, were aware of the crimes committed by this former player (I won’t mention him by name such is my disgust and anger at the situation).

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It is alleged that this individual told the club, in a meeting with you in May 2015 that he was guilty of two of the offences that he had been charged with and that the club were in possession of various transcripts of messages between the former player and the alleged victim.

This former player was allowed not only to carry on playing, but also allowed to interact with fans, posing for photographs with children of all ages all the while both he and the club were fully aware of his guilt.

I find the facts in the paragraph above absolutely disgusting, outrageous and immoral.

How dare the club allow this person to a) receive the support from fans (we, as always give our undying love and support to our club, its players and its officials in spite of the garbage served up by them for the last 4 or 5 years), b) continue to receive his huge wages every week, but most upsetting of all c) come into contact with fans of all ages.

On the 3rd October 2015, I attended the West Ham game and at my son’s request we waited outside the main entrance for the players to emerge so that my SAFC-obsessed son could meet some of his heroes and pose for photographs.

One of the players that stopped for photos is the ex-Sunderland player currently on trial in Bradford.

Can you imagine the sickening feeling that I have as a parent on discovering what has been alleged about the club. Can you imagine the heartache of having to explain to an eight-year- old why his footballing hero has been arrested, charged and tried for offences of this nature?

Can you imagine then having to explain why his prized photograph of him meeting his hero had to be removed from his bedroom wall?

If you do respond, and I’m sure you won’t, then I’m certain that you will spin some yarn about “innocent until proven guilty” and “club not wanting to influence the trial” and on those facts I would agree with you.

This person deserved a fair trial, but the club should have taken greater measures to safeguard its younger fans during this time.

The player could have been suspended, or as the club were desperate to have one of its better players available during the annual relegation battle, at the very least he could have been kept away from the fans.

I feel hurt, let down and sickened by this whole matter and my on-going support of the club is currently in doubt (try explaining that to an eight-year-old!)

It is my sincerest hope that the club will explain their actions to the thousands of fans who feel stupid and naïve at offering our continued support.

Yours Sincerely,

Ross Robson

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