What should Sunderland do about the match clash with the Great North Run?
BLACK Cats fans have been left seeing red over a rescheduled match’s clash with the Great North Run.
Sunderland AFC’s home game at the Stadium of Light against Stoke City has been changed from Saturday, September 17, to the day after, kicking off at 1pm – less than three hours after the start of the half marathon.
The club says that the game has been moved in agreement with the Premier League and other authorities, as the Potters are in Europa League action on the Thursday before their visit to Wearside, and then play Tottenham Hotspur in the Carling Cup on the Tuesday.
An estimated 90,000 people are expected to take part, or come out to watch, the Great North Run, while almost 50,000 fans will be making their way to the Stadium of Light.
Sunderland season ticket holder Liam Liddle is taking part in his first Great North Run but is disappointed at the fixture change, which means he will miss the Stoke game.
The wheelchair and elite women’s races start at 10.10am, followed by the elite men and mass race start is due to begin at 10.40am.
Liam, 22, of Shiney Row, said: “I only found out yesterday when my mate told me.
“Even if you were doing the run in an elite athlete’s time you still wouldn’t be able to make it there.”
Liam – who is doing the run in aid of a cystic fibrosis charity, after his sister Niki died in 2001 after suffering from the condition – is now resigned to missing watching his team.
“I’ll have to miss it but there will probably be thousands of others who won’t be there when you think about it,” said the former Houghton Kepier School pupil, who works at Washington Badge and Embroidery.
Kenny Potter, a lifelong fan and season ticket holder since the 1970s, is also taking part in the run and said he felt let-down.
Mr Potter, 54, said he thinks he will still be running by the time the first whistle sounds at the Stadium of Light.
“I don’t think I’ll be finished at 1pm,” said Mr Potter.
“It’s just a ridiculous time to put it on.”
There are also concerns that the region’s transport systems will struggle to cope with both events. Metro operator Nexus say they have no capacity to run anything other than a normal Sunday service on the day.
A spokesman for Nova International, organisers of the GNR, said: “We’re upset and disappointed the participants who were hoping to go to the match and for the spectators and runners who will be hugely inconvenienced because of the pressure of traffic, which will now be more acute than normal.”
Louise Wanless, head of media and communications at Sunderland AFC, said: “We understand the difficulties supporters face when games have to be rescheduled and naturally the aim is always to minimise the impact on the club’s loyal following.
“All parties were aware of the proximity of events such as the Great North Run during the rescheduling of this fixture and we fully sympathise with those who have been adversely affected.
“While it’s not possible to meet the requirements of every supporter, both clubs have worked with the Premier League and the Safety Advisory Group to confirm a practical new date and time for this game as quickly as possible.
“We hope that the earlier kick-off time assists fans preparing for the working week ahead and young supporters who are at school the following day, as well as supporters travelling long distances on Sunday afternoon and early evening.”
•THE Black Cats’ game away at Arsenal next month has also been moved.
Steve Bruce’s men were due to visit the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, October 15, for a 3pm kick-off.
They will now play there on Sunday, October 16, with a 1.30pm kick-off and the match will now be televised on Sky Sports.