“WE have never before heard of a football club resorting to pop concerts to make ends meet.” 

This was the reply Sunderland AFC received when they asked the blazer and tie brigade at the Football Association for permission to host a performance by The Rolling Stones in 1970. 

It would have been a huge coup for the club and the town. In 1970, the Stones were at the peak of their powers. Had Sunderland been given the go ahead, then Roker Park would have been the Stones sole UK date on the band’s European tour.

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It is a shame that the dunderheads at Lancaster Gate weren’t as forward-thinking as football mandarins in Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands, who jumped at the chance to have the world’s biggest rock band play their stadia that year.

Almost half a century later, rock concerts in sports grounds are commonplace... but once again the Stones have slipped through Sunderland’s grasp.

Many have questioned why the cash-strapped club passed up a seemingly golden opportunity to host Jagger and Co. this summer. It seems that Sunderland’s strategy is to focus on more pressing matters, such as managing its debt mountain and producing a pristine pitch, than hosting prestigious events.

It’s also worth noting that venues don’t make a fortune from hosting gigs – the lion’s share of ticketing revenue goes to the artists and promoters. The Stones would have brought more kudos than hard cash to the club.

Nevertheless, it’s a blow for music fans and for a city which recently
lost its City of Culture bid. For the Stadium of Light the message is Rock’s Off, for now.