SUNDERLAND’S executive director Charlie Methven has described those who are hitting the club in the pocket by screening live streams in the pubs as “parasites”.

Methven hinted earlier in the week that the Black Cats chiefs would be looking to target the bars on Wearside where some fans were choosing to head to watch the games.

He is reacting because the pubs and bars and playing out the games on live streams even though English Football League broadcast rules state games being streamed on club websites cannot be shown on screens in other venues.

And he thinks those responsible are “trying to get a free ride” out of the club. Live Sky games can be shown by venues if they have the relevant licenses in place.

Speaking to BBC Newcastle about the issue, Methven said: “If you’re a fanatic of your football club and you decide that actually what you’re going to do is you’re going to spend your money on a few pints of lager and watch an illegal stream of the match rather than contributing that money to trying to help your club to be the best it possibly can, you’re not a fan, you’re a parasite.”

Methven thinks that under the ownership of Stewart Donald the club is doing what it can to make sure that going to the Stadium of Light is affordable.

He added: “Sunderland AFC has almost the lowest prices in the entire country. Our price per ticket is absolutely rock bottom.

“When you average them out, it can be about £12 per ticket. I don’t buy that there are people who are poor enough to not be able to afford that but are rich enough to be able to afford to go to pubs and drink in there.”

Methven’s comments could have been taken badly by fans because it suggests he was referring to them. However, he has moved to clarify that he was not describing Sunderland supporters as “parasites”.

“A fan can’t be a parasite, it’s the pub owners doing this who are,” said Methven. “It’s up to all of the businesses in Sunderland to try and support each other.

“I’ve had quite a few people say that more and more people are in pubs in the city before and after games now, which is brilliant.

“But you are doing this kind of business, trying to make a bit of extra money on the side (by showing illegal streams), then I don’t think you are doing your civic duty when the club is in a very difficult situation financially at the moment.

“If a supporter says to me that they are not going to bother coming to the game and sit in a pub and watch it on an illegal stream, I would question if they are a supporter.

“I don’t criticise anyone who wants to watch a match in a pub like that, but I reserve the right not to call them supporters. Being a supporter means you are supporting the club.”