THIEVES torched a city pub after a break-in early today.
Police sealed off Roker Avenue for an hour as firefighters tackled the blaze at the Howard Arms.
Watch manager Gary Teasdale, of Fulwell fire station, said the fire had been started on purpose.
“I have no doubt it was deliberate,” he said.
“Someone had broken in, they had taken money from the gaming machine and the jukebox and some of the wages from behind the bar, then set fire to it and made their way out.
“I feel sorry for the people who have the bar. Their main trade is from the match and they are going to have to try to turn it round for tomorrow, which is a lot of work.”
A police spokesman said the blaze had been reported just after 6am. No-one was hurt.
One witness, who did not wish to be named, said he was a regular at the pub.
“The window has been put in. It looks really bad,” he said.
“I drink in there all the time, it is a nice pub.
“We were going to meet the lads later, but now that’s off.”