FUMING football supporters have hit out after it emerged that Sunderland fans travelling to next month’s Tyne-Wear derby may have to do so on official coaches.
The so-called “bubble trip” has been slammed by supporters and could mean that all of those attending in the away end at St James’s Park for the February 1 clash will have to travel on official coaches where they will be issued with their match tickets on board.
The move was mooted at a Sunderland AFC branch liaison meeting although the club today said a number of options were still being looked at.
Fans have branded the plan “a joke”, with many saying they will be inconvenienced by having to travel to the Stadium of Light to get on buses when they already live near to Newcastle. Scores of people were arrested as violence flared at last season’s Tyne Wear derby in Newcastle in April following Sunderland’s 3-0 win at the ground.
Fans took to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Luke Bowley wrote: “If this bubble trip is true, it’s another example of how atrociously Northumbria Police treat Sunderland fans.”
Another user @safc1879_ wrote: “Might not bother doing Newcastle away if its a bubble trip. Might have a student ticket for sale if it is. Absolute joke.”
Janet Rowan, of the Chester-le-Street supporters branch of Sunderland AFC, was at the branch meeting where the proposals were discussed. “Everyone is trying to get some sort of compromise that the police are happy with,” she said.
“Things haven’t been finalised, and I know that the club are looking at putting on alternative routes so that fans wouldn’t all have to travel to Sunderland.
“I can understand the police’s problem because for the derby at the Stadium of Light they can close off Sheepfolds, but St James’s is in Newcastle city centre where there are loads of back alleys where people can be hiding.”
A spokeswoman for Sunderland AFC said a number of options were being looked at for arrangements for the game.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “We are still working with clubs and other partners regarding arrangements for this upcoming fixture and the information will be released in due course.”