Sunderland fans will noisily welcome Premier League away support plan

Sunderland fans celebrate at Bournemouth. Picture by Frank Reid

Sunderland fans celebrate at Bournemouth. Picture by Frank Reid

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Exceptions often prove the rule.

Those who claim sticking away fans in the furthest part of the ground away from the playing surface spoils the atmosphere, weren’t at Sunderland’s last three derby victories at St James’s Park.

The Sunderland fans could have been watching from the surface of the moon and you’d have still heard them roaring their team to success.

Derby victories aside, banishing opposition supporters to ‘the gods’ does nothing to liven proceedings.

Look hard enough and there is much to praise about Premier League football. The stadiums, all seaters, are more comfortable than the terraces; the food eclipses the dodgy pies and burgers of old and the facilities are a long way from the primitive conveniences of the Seventies and Eighties.

It’s all very civilised, all very comfortable and, as a result, more often than not, all very sterile.

For a game built on passion, trying to banish the most vocal and emotional of fans out of sight and out of earshot does nothing for the atmosphere.

Which is why the Premier League should be praised for insisting that, from next season, a section of - if not all - away fans must be housed pitch-side.

They are doing it in a bid to liven the atmosphere at Premier League grounds.

Whether that’s for the benefit of the fans in the stadium or the TV viewers at home is a moot point.

Either way, bar the potential inconvenience to some season ticket holders who may have to be moved, it is a plan that all supporters, both home and away, will welcome.

The trick for Sunderland this season is ensuring they are still in the Premier League to enjoy it!