The Sound of Music

It’s been a crazy couple of months but our summer of concerts has finally drawn to a close.

For the last few years, the Stadium of Light has made use of the break in the football calendar to host high profile concerts by the likes of Rihanna, Take That and Bon Jovi.

This year was no exception, with more than 80,000 music fans visiting the stadium for two amazing gigs, featuring some of music’s biggest stars.

First up, and needing little introduction, was international superstars One Direction, who opened the UK leg of their ‘Where We Are’ 2014 World Tour in Sunderland in May.

More recently the stadium played host to blinkbox music North East Live 2014, featuring live performances by Rizzle Kicks, The Saturdays, Jason Derulo, Katy B, Union J, The Vamps, Austin Mahone, Neon Jungle and Rixton, along with the day’s headliner Jessie J.

This family-friendly extravaganza, which ran for more than eight hours, followed the success of the first North East Live in 2013 and attracted almost 35,000 visitors, spanning all ages.

While the relatively young crowds at both events did pose some challenges, these were overcome with the help of our key partners and it was fantastic to see so many people enjoying the facilities here at the Stadium of Light.

Together, these concerts have helped boost the regional economy by an estimated £7m, adding to the £56m already generated through previous gigs.

We’re now working towards summer 2015 and hope to make more exciting announcements very soon.

Street Child or Person?

 “When they see me on the streets, they say I am a street child, when they see me playing football, they say I am a person”

In the shadows of the stadia where some of the worlds richest footballers are playing this summer, life for many is a struggle against poverty, drugs and murder. In the wake of the World Cup, the new infrastructural developments and construction of stadia have left Brazilian taxpayers with a considerable bill. With protestors having limited political representation and the promise of economic gain taking precedent over the monetary and social costs for the poor, the slum dwellers can only hope the Brazilian government spend their profits on providing better education and health care.

Until then, it is the responsibility of those passionate about football to explore the possibilities of utilising the beautiful game to benefit the entire community. The favelas hold a particular significance to the footballing culture in Brazil, big names in the game including Ronaldo, Zico and Romário all started out by playing football in the small shanty towns they called home. Jair Ventura Filho, better known as Jairzinho, is recognised for being the only player to score at every stage of the World Cup, but now he is a legend in the favelas for the free football training he offers to poor carioca youngsters, who are seeking escape through football.

This idea of providing an alternative for underprivileged children at risk of falling into organised crime has led to the creation of football based education projects all over Brazil. The Football Beyond Borders Legacy Project supported local families to provide accommodation to international fans during the World Cup, as well as organising a ‘Favela World Cup’ for residents of local communities to play against international fans. As a result, 40 young people from the community have reached a basic conversational level of English and £3000 of direct investment went into placing roads into the accommodation so tourists can continue to stay in the future.

Street Child World Cup (in association with Save the Children) is a global movement for street children to receive the protection, rehabilitation and opportunities that all children are entitled to. In April 2014 over 230 former street children from 19 countries participated in a football tournament in Rio de Janeiro to promote the importance of children’s rights.

Favela Street (operating under the wings of IBISS) uses football as a tool to improve the communicative, organisational and social skills of ex-soldados who have turned their life around. Using a four month program, these youngsters learn to become good sports coaches and act as role models for children of the project, who can only join in if they go to school. As a result of the Favela Street project, attendance in schools has risen from 40% to 98% since the program started, encouraging more children to make the right decisions and avoid the crimes that may have led to the death of their friends and family.

Young people who have suffered trauma, abuse or neglect lose touch with their instinctive and childish urge to hope, dream and express themselves. In every Favela there is always room for a football pitch, always space for a goal made from two flip flops, and always plenty to see for spectators with the power to change a child’s life, for good.

Written by Emma Wilis

Follow on Twitter: @EmmaWillis91


There’s nothing like a bit of Powerchair Football to get the adrenaline going!

Adapted from the worldwide game, Powerchair Football is the fastest growing sport in the world. It provides the opportunity for disabled people to participate in sport. The game is played in modified wheelchairs that have bumpers to hit an oversized ball.

Powerchair football is similar to the running game but it has some rule variations to make the sport as competitive as possible and it is played on indoor basketball courts.

What about the rules?

Any Powerchair can be used to play, but most competitors have sports powerchairs which help protect the players feet and improve contact with the ball.

‘The Striker’ is the original Powerchair Football attachment. This is designed for, and suitable to use on the majority of Powerchairs – it is also fully adjustable.

The Pitch must be hard and smooth and of course level for easy maneuverability.

The ball is 13-inch football.

The team is made up of 8 players, with 4 players on the pitch at any time. One of these players must be the goalkeeper. A team can have as many substitutes as it wants – giving more players the chance to take part.

A match is 40 minutes long. This is played in two 20-minute halves, with a 10 minute break.

Tackling is only allowed with the bumper, if any other part of the wheelchair is used, a foul is called and a free kick awarded

Only 2 players from the defending team may enter the penalty area at any one time.

It’s a fast and furious game full of thrills.

People who wish to join the team should contact John Gilmore on 07973 522204 or you can email John here.

Staying On The Ball For The World Cup

As everyone is likely to be aware, what with office sweepstakes (Honduras anyone?) and holiday requests, the 2014 World Cup is almost upon us. Nina Robinson, Head of Legal Services at HR Legal Service gives us an overview on the employment issues that employers should be aware of during the tournament.

Kick-off is tomorrow on Thursday 12 June 2014 and the final is to be held on 13 July 2014. As with any large sporting events, there are a few employment issues that employers should be aware of including:

» annual leave requests
» sickness absence
» fitness to work
» website use during working hours

Annual Leave

Employers might well see an increase in requests for last minute annual leave as teams progress through the stages. A company’s annual leave policy should give guidance as to how to book time off. However, during events like the World Cup, employers may wish to consider being more flexible when allowing leave, with the understanding that this is a temporary arrangement. For instance, if you normally require 2 weeks’ notice before granting a holiday request, you may decide to allow a degree of flexibility for this limited period, on the understanding that this is an exception.

Sickness Absence

It will probably be worth reiterating your sickness absence policy, including your absence reporting procedures, reinforcing the fact that employees will still be expected to comply with this during the World Cup. In other words, make it clear that a text sent to their friend at 11.00 to say they can’t come in because they drank too much the night before will not be acceptable and if anyone is found to be abusing the sickness absence policy then this will be dealt with as a formal disciplinary matter.

Fitness to Work

Brazil is four hours behind the UK so many games will take place after work hours. However, this can raise issues in itself. For instance, employees may stay out late to watch matches and then attend work either tired from the night before or still under the influence from those post-match celebratory/commiseratory drinks. Employers should make it clear to employees that they will be expected to attend work in a fit state to work and should outline how unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with. The key is to be clear about your expectations and then consistent in terms of enforcing them.

Website use during work hours

Employers should make sure that they have a clear policy in place about internet use. However, you might also decide that, during events like the World Cup, you are prepared to be flexible in relation to that policy, for instance, by allowing employees to watch/listen to matches while at work, on the understanding that work is still completed and to the appropriate standard. Whilst the aforementioned time difference will make this less of an issue in workplaces operating standard office hours, employers operating shift patterns may want to put in place such contingency procedures. This sort of flexibility can increase morale and decrease issues such as unauthorised absences. However, there is certainly no obligation on employers to permit this.

There may be an increase in the use of social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. Again, employers should have a strong policy in place that they can stick to, or make it clear what the exceptions are during the World Cup.

They think it’s all over…

In all of the above examples, the main points to remember are clarity, communication and consistency. Have a clear position on something, communicate it to your employees and then stick to it.

It is now.

A final point to note is that employers should remember that they should not assume that all employees will be supporting England. If exceptions are made for England matches, they will need to be made for employees supporting other teams.

Race Against Time For Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

After suffering medial knee ligament damage during England’s warm-up game against Ecquador, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain faces a race against time to be declared fit for England’s three group games in Brazil.  

Dr. Charlotte Cowie - Perform at St. George's Park

Dr. Charlotte Cowie – Perform at St. George’s Park

Dr.Charlotte Cowie of Perform St. George’s Park takes a look at the injury that affects so many footballers.

The Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) of the knee is an important ligament which runs along the inside of the knee from the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (main lower leg bone).It is one of the structures that allows the knee joint to move as a hinge without moving from side to side as it bends and straightens. If the knee is twisted or forcefully moved to the side, the ligament can become overstretched, torn and damaged. This is relatively common in football and is the most frequent knee ligament injury. The action of side-footing a ball,  coming into contact with another player where the inside of the lower leg is struck or catching the foot in the pitch so that the knee twists above  it will all put stress through the ligament and can result in injury.

Most MCL tears involve some but not all of the fibres being torn. If this is the case, the knee does not usually need surgery, but does need careful rehabilitation. If the ligament heals in a lengthened position, then the ligament which is one of the main steadying forces of the knee will be unstable in the long term and can become painful with actions such as kicking a football. If a player returns too early to football training, the ligament can become painful, or other muscles around the knee can start to compensate, causing related problems.

Complications can also arise if the MCL is very forcefully ruptured. This will pull the knee joint apart on one side and can result in cartilage or anterior cruciate ligament damage at the same time.

The usual rehabilitation of an MCL injury will involve care in not over-stressing the ligament in the initial phase – rest ice and compression as with most acute sporting injuries and work to regain the hinge movement of the knee. Treatment will then proceed to careful straight line work which does not pull the ligament out of line, making sure that any weakened muscles are strengthened to support the area. Once a player can comfortably run in a straight line again, change of direction work, cutting and twisting will gradually be built in, finally progressing to striking the ball. A long side-footed pass is the most stressful non-contact element of the game and can remain painful for some time after all other elements have recovered.

If the ligament is slow to settle an injection can help to treat the last remaining elements of inflammation. The time for recovery from this type of injury depends on what proportion of the ligament fibres have been torn. A grade 1 (a few fibres torn) may only take 3 weeks or less. The higher the grade the longer it will take, and a grade 3 injury (fully ruptured) would frequently take months.

An operation to tighten a medial collateral ligament that does not heal well is a big undertaking and it would be the aim of all medical teams treating this kind of injury to avoid it at all costs. However a small proportion of patients with persistent pain or lack of stability around the knee will end up having a ‘tightening’ procedure which again will result in several months out of the game.

There is some evidence that improving muscle co-ordination and balance around the knee can help to prevent ligament injuries and most physiotherapists working with high performing teams would now include some kind or ‘prehabilitation’ routine in their squad training. This would be a set of preventive exercises aimed at protecting the knee from ligament injury, working on the basis that prevention is better than cure. However the contact element and the unpredictability of football means that we will never completely take away the risk that a player maybe caught unawares and the ligament accidentally stretched as the knee is pushed out of line.


With football on a hiatus and corporate bookings few and far between, summer can be a particularly quiet time for stadia cross the UK. 

Here at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, we’ve found new ways to capitalise on this availability and build new audiences in both the business and leisure sectors.

One of the most successful ways of doing this has been to host high profile concerts by acts including Rihanna, Take That, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi, who have enhanced the summer billing at the stadium.

This summer we welcomed One Direction for the opening night of the UK leg of their ‘Where We Are’ World Tour and we can’t wait to welcome a line-up of the biggest stars, including Jessie J, for blinkbox music North East Live.

Combined, these events will bring more than 80,000 people into the Stadium, generating a welcome boost to our summertime economy, as well as that of Sunderland as a whole.

Securing these concerts has taken years of work behind the scenes, developing strong partnerships with leading promoters and a proven track record of successfully managing these types of events.   But there are other strategies that could be implemented to deliver a quicker pay off.

Over the next few months, we’ll be running a series of summertime promotions, designed specifically to draw corporate custom to the Stadium of Light.    This includes our special Sizzling Summer package, based around an informal BBQ dinner or alfresco lunch, with unlimited refreshments served throughout the day.

The package, priced from £28 per person, can be tailor made to suit everything from training days and meetings to corporate entertainment, with its versatility, affordability and novelty value all helping to increase its appeal.

For even more added value, every delegate who attends an event booked with the Sizzling Summer package will also receive a complimentary tour of the stadium, including the executive boxes and pitchside, which are normally closed during the summer (subject to availability).

One event that draws crowds to the Stadium of Light every summer is the annual graduations for the University of Sunderland.   This year, as well as hosting the various ceremonies for different university departments, we’ve also arranged for the specially constructed outdoor stage to remain in place for up to a week.

This will allow us to host other large scale gatherings, involving up to 3000 guests, and to deliver these services at a lower rate than would normally be possible if a staging area was being erected.

In order to enhance our seasonal offering even further, our specialist catering and events subsidiary, 1879 Events Management, has also introduced a special summer menu at the National Glass centre, Sunderland, which can cater for up to 300 guests and offers  beautiful views across the River Wear.

With this level of forward planning and creative thinking across the board, summer 2014 will be a hot one for SAFC.

For more information about events at the Stadium of Light, visit, call 0871 911 1555 or email conf&

For more information about 1879 Events Management visit, call 0871 911 1269 or follow @1879Events on Twitter.