MIDDLESBROUGH: LEE HALL'S comments (Northern Echo SPORT, Friday) about attendances at the Riverside are uninformed nonsense.

Let's compare the attendances in the previous round of the UEFA Cup:

Newcastle, with a catchment population of over one million, pulled in just 26,000 for the visit of Heerenveen.

Boro, with a catchment of just over half a million (that's the whole of Teesside plus part of rural North Yorkshire), had an attendance of over 20,000 for Grazer AK.

Let me work out the mathematics. Like for like, Boro's attendance was about 50 per cent better than Newcastle's. This is not untypical. Boro gates average around 30,000, Newcastle's 50,000.

Incidentally, Sunderland has a catchment population of around 900,000. Hence their gates of 40,000-plus when in the Premiership.

The myth perpetuated by those of a Geordie persuasion that Boro are badly supported just doesn't stand up to scrutiny.

The truth is that, per head of population, Boro are and always have been the best supported team in the region. Next time Lee, try to get your facts right.

Pete Whelan, Guisborough

I AM a Boro season ticket holder and have supported Boro for over 50 years, but I did not go to the Sporting Lisbon game for the following reasons:

Firstly, why was the kick off arranged for 8.10pm? Any fans wishing to take children who had school the next day, or who have to travel some distance to the Riverside, are bound to have been deterred. A 7.30pm kick off would have been more suitable, but do the fans matter?

Secondly, I am sick of watching the team play with one man up front producing negative and boring football.

I realise the team has injury problems, but this is no reason to constantly change the formation and to play players out of position.

Another reason is that the injury problems were known before the January transfer window and yet we did not make any signings.

Was this because there were no players over 30 years old with big reputations, and past their best available?

Why can we not find, buy and develop a young midfield player to play alongside Downing and Morrison? We have not signed anyone better than Jon Greening and what has happened to Mark Wilson?

Why did we get rid of players who put bums on seats like Juninho and Marinelli when the team is crying out for some flair and creativity.

And I know it can be argued that we are having our best ever season in terms of league position, but I think the entertainment value is poor.

I have watched too many games this season when we can't seem to string two passes together, and in some games we have not managed one shot on target.

David Legg, Billingham

THIS is a question the club should be asking it's supporters. A business that does not listen to its customers is doomed to failure, likewise a business that does not take note of what it's competitors are up to is also doomed.

The competitors being Newcastle (cheap UEFA and FA Cup tickets) and Sunderland (cheap and free tickets).

In short, chairman Steve Gibson does not listen to the vast majority of fans. We were desperate for reinforcements in the months leading up to the transfer window and the situation has now worsened but there have been no explanations coming from the hierarchy.

In conclusion Boro will not fill the Riverside until they start listening to all sections of fans, not just the select few.

Mick Johnstone, via e-mail


AS a sponsor of the recent Darlington against Notts County match, I would just like to say what a professional way the club is now run.

The match day included a trip around the stadium, together with a visit to the changing rooms, followed by a truly excellent three course meal for myself and guests.

I would strongly urge the business community of Darlington to have no fear and to get behind the club and sponsor them. Your customers will appreciate this hospitality.

RC Greenhalgh, Managing Director, Glenwood, Darlington.


I thoroughly enjoyed the Chelsea v Barcelona game on Tuesday. It was sheer entertainment for all viewers. And the pleasing thing for me is that the three main players in Chelsea's team were all English - Joe Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry.

Reginald Able, Northallerton.