March 5 – Overseas branches of football clubs are nothing new but English tier-three Sunderland have gone where few, if any, have so far sought to tread.
The club have launched a branch of their official Supporters Club in North Korea organised by the Sunderland-born owner of a company called Visit North Korea which organises visits to the communist state for tourists.
The plan is for fans in the secretive country to adopt the club, who have fallen on hard times in recent years but have a massive fan base, as their team.
“Our plan is to raise awareness by donating a gradual flow of Sunderland merchandise to the country, including football shirts, scarfs and other memorabilia,” Fowdy told Sunderland’s website.
“We will look at donating to local schools, colleges and other institutions. North Koreans do love their football, but they have no access or resources to buy things like football shirts. This provides an incredible opportunity not just to develop our fanbase, but to engage in a profound act of charity as well to a people much less fortunate than our own.
“We are starting from scratch. That is the excitement of this challenge. They quite welcome goods coming into the country providing they aren’t of a political nature.”
“They have an awareness of the Premier League and inevitably drift towards the ‘big teams’, but we are going to connect with them in a personal way which no club has ever yet tried.
“It’s the first football club to ever even think of it, so it’s very unique and I feel quite confident that we can make an impact.”
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