SUNDERLAND fans will find themselves faced with 400 fewer Newcastle United supporters compared with last season’s derby on Wearside.
Authorities have decided to allocate 2,640 tickets to the Tyneside club for the game on Saturday, August 20, rather than the 3,100 they did last season in order to allow more room for segregation.
Toon Talk fanzine editor Steve Wraith said the move was “disappointing” for both sets of fans.
“I think Sunderland fans will agree that the derbies are the most anticipated games of the season,” said Mr Wraith.
“Having 400 more fans there makes a better atmosphere, but if it’s for safety reasons then fair enough.”
Mr Wraith thought the recent trouble involving Newcastle fans at a pre-season game at Darlington and the last derby game in January at the Stadium of Light where a number of people ran on to the playing area may have been factors.
Scuffles took place after the game with seats ripped out and thrown between the two sets of supporters.
“It’s probably coming in the wake of what happened at Darlington the other week so it’s maybe a wise move,” added Mr Wraith.
“I think for 90 minutes twice a season Newcastle and Sunderland fans despise each other, but the rest of the time it’s good banter.
“Sometimes it does get a bit out of hand.
“It’s disappointing because it means 400 of us won’t come down there, but we’ve been in worse situations like when both clubs banned away fans so at least it isn’t at that level.”
A spokesman for Sunderland AFC explained the decision, saying: “Police officers and match stewards will be given additional room to manoeuvre at the forthcoming Wear Tyne derby fixture at the Stadium of Light after the segregation area between home and away supporters was increased.
“Sunderland AFC has liaised with local authorities and has informed local rivals Newcastle United of the change.
“While the seating allocation for visiting fans has subsequently been slightly reduced, the Black Cats will be making just under 2,700 tickets available for travelling supporters.”