POLICE plans are under way to manage the thousands of Sunderland fans heading to Tyneside for next month’s derby.
With a capacity crowd expected at St James’s Park, officers are urging visiting supporters to plan the journeys well in advance.
The match is scheduled to kick off at 12.45pm on Saturday, February 1, and police are keen to prevent a repeat of the problems which marred the Black Cats’ last visit to the ground when Newcastle supporters went on the rampage.
Northumbria Police say they will be drafting in extra police officers based at key points around Newcastle and Sunderland, including the transport infrastructure, before, during and after the game.
Roads in Newcastle city centre are expected to be extremely busy and fans are being advised to plan their travel in advance and make the most of free coach travel.
The coaches leave the Stadium of Light at 10.30am from the Green Car Park area next to the ticket office.
There will also be direct Metro services for Sunderland supporters on match day. There will be two Metros travelling direct from Sunderland station to Central Station in Newcastle. They will leave at 10.43am and 10.55am.
For the return journey, there are two Metros running direct from Central Station to Sunderland. They are at 3.45pm and 3.57pm.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, of Northumbria Police, said: “Our role is to help supporters enjoy themselves and ensure the safety of all those attending.”