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Gamble Index -   Football Links - Sunderland

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The Stadium of Light has dominated Sunderland's F.A. Premier League history just as it stands over the city's landscape. The state-of-the-art venue was a pipe dream for supporters when the new competition kicked off in 1992. Sunderland were a struggling Second Division outfit and facilities at Roker Park were insufficient for a successful top-flight club. Optimism was raised as foundations were laid at Wearmouth and the team responded. The Wearsiders set up a grand finale for weather-beaten Roker with promotion to the F.A. Premier League in 1996. But a century of football at the old arena ended in relegation after Peter Reid's side suffered a final-day defeat to Wimbledon. And a year on, Sunderland were pipped to promotion in their debut season at the new ground, losing a momentous Wembley play-off final to Charlton on penalties. The Stadium of Light's F.A. Premier League bow finally came in 1999, after the team bounced back with a decisive First Division title win. Kevin Phillips soon established himself as one of the most potent strikers in the top division and successive seventh-place finishes announced Sunderland's arrival on the big stage. Reid left the club in October 2002 after seven successful years in charge, heralding a new era at the Stadium of Light. Former Leeds United manager Howard Wilkinson was named as Reid's replacement, with Stoke City boss Steve Cotterill joining the Black Cats as assistant boss.

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