BARS have agreed to hold off on serving booze on derby day in a bid to keep the peace on Sunderland’s streets.
Police have approached pubs and off licences across the city and requested those with permission to sell alcohol early in the day to only serve from 10am, when the Black Cats take on Newcastle tomorrow.
All but a few shops have agreed to the move. Business say they will lose out on thousands of pounds worth of trade, but have agreed to the measure as they back police plans to reduce the risk of disorder.
Among those to back the idea is John Dickman, who runs Gatsby in Park Lane, who said all members of the city’s Pubwatch scheme had agreed to the delay.
He said: “At Gatsby, we’ve got a licence to serve alcohol from 8am, and in the five years we’ve had Gatsby, we’ve had queues to get in from 8am.
“We’ve never had any trouble in the pub or in the streets.
“But last year, there was a lot of trouble in Newcastle with the Newcastle fans.
“The police came in this year and tried to get this bubble plan in place and get them all on the buses, but then the club didn’t agree with that,
“So the police came and asked us if we would refrain from serving alcohol until 10am.”
Mr Dickman added: “The way they have put it is that Sunderland fans who have alcohol and then get the train or the Metro, and then on the way to the stadium, are given abuse and things thrown at them.
“If they’ve had a few drinks they might feel they need to react and there could be violence and Sunderland fans could get hurt.
“We don’t want that. We see where they are coming from and we work together a lot with the police, and they have asked us to the flexible.
“We will lose thousands of pounds, but it’s for the better of the city.”
The bar will open at 9am on Saturday, with visitors welcome to enjoy bacon sandwiches and breakfasts and non-alcoholic drinks for the first hour.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We’ve worked closely with all of our partners during the run-up to the derby to ensure it is a safe and enjoyable day for everyone.
“We welcome the co-operation of the licensees in agreeing to delay the time they start to sell alcohol on Saturday.”
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