DERBY-DAY supporters were today warned to be on their best behaviour when the Black Cats and Magpies clash next weekend.
Northumbria Police is asking both sets of fans to observe policing arrangements for the day in a bid to halt any outbreak of trouble.
The match, on Sunday, April 14, at noon, is important to both teams as they battle to avoid relegation.
A capacity crowd is expected at St James’s Park and extra police officers have already been drafted in for the day.
They will be based at key points around Newcastle and Sunderland, including on public transport, before and after the game.
Roads are expected to be extremely busy, and Sunderland fans are being advised to plan their travel arrangements for the game in advance and make the most of free coach travel being provided by Sunderland AFC.
Black Cats supporters are also being asked to work with police and stewards by waiting inside St James’s Park for a short while after the final whistle, as per previous derby matches.
This is to allow police to ensure there is a safe path back to the coaches and Metro trains when SAFC fans leave the stadium.
Police said the holdback will be kept to a minimum amount of time, and is in place for everyone’s safety and Sunderland fans will have access to bars, refreshments and toilets while they are waiting. Newcastle supporters will be asked to leave the stadium briskly after full time.
Twenty arrests were made by officers during the last derby clash at the Stadium of Light in October.
Operations Commander Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said: “We’ve been working hard over recent months to deal with the minority of people suspected of being involved in football-related disorder and this will continue up until derby day.
“This has included arrests in relation to disorder incidents which took place before the Sunderland v West Ham, and after the Newcastle v Chelsea matches earlier this year.
“This is aimed at preventing those people from attending the match.”