SUNDERLAND and Newcastle fans are joining forces in opposing police plans to make away supporters travel to next month’s Tyne-Wear derby on official coaches.
Thousands of supporters have hit out after it was announced that Black Cats fans will have to go to next month’s game at St James’ Park via official transport or they will not be allowed into the ground.
The Echo reported on Monday that the so-called bubble trip has been slammed by chiefs at Sunderland’s Seventy3 fanzine.
They say the plans, agreed by both football clubs and police chiefs, are flawed.
The move comes after violence flared in Newcastle city centre following last year’s derby.
Scores of people were arrested amid disorder after Sunderland won 3-0.
Now, Newcastle supporters have also spoken out, fearing that the police tactic will become the norm for all future Tyne-Wear derby encounters.
NUFC fanzine True Faith editor Michael Martin said: “As well as the restrictions placed upon civil liberties, this is also wholly inconvenient for ordinary football supporters, many of whom live well away from Sunderland, where I expect the buses will leave from. Of course, the excuse for this action will be that it is in response to the scenes at the last derby at St James’ Park.
“The trouble was mostly not caused by Sunderland fans travelling to and from the game, yet it is long-standing Sunderland fans who face being punished for idiots who do not attend matches.”
Sunderland fans going to the game, on February 1, will have to go on official coaches, many of which will leave from the Stadium of Light on the morning of the game.
Other coaches will take alternative routes and pick up passengers at designated points.
Assistant Chief Constable Jo Farrell said: “We welcome the decision by SAFC in trying to avoid the disorder that has arisen at recent derby matches.
“In particular, its initiative to condition ticket sales on travel to St James’ Park aims to prevent the disorder that occurred around Central Station and the routes to and from the stadium at last year’s match.
“The issue has been discussed between both clubs and the police. Based on those discussions Sunderland Football Club took this decision which is aimed at ensuring the safety of their supporters.”