Police commissioner calls for talks with Sunderland and Newcastle over derby day row

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird
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CRIME Commissioner Vera Baird has urged Newcastle United and Sunderland to talk to Northumbria Police after their derby-day fallout.

The two clubs fired a broadside at the force this week, insisting they will arrange future derbies at kick-off times to suit themselves, the Premier League and broadcasters.

In a joint statement, they questioned Northumbria Police’s assertion that it had no say over direct changes to kick-off times, in particular the Tyne-Wear derbies, highlighting a number of occasions where they say the force rejected kick-off times later than 1.30pm for derby games.

Sunderland have also scrapped plans to make the next trip to Tyneside on February 1, a “bubble match”, where fans with tickets would only be allowed to travel on official club coaches.

Now, Northumbria Police Commissioner Ms Baird has urged the parties to talk.

She said: “The safety of fans, residents and visitors to the city is paramount, and Northumbria Police have a duty to ensure public safety at all times.

“That is why the police welcomed the proposal by Sunderland AFC to provide a safe way of travelling to Newcastle, by using coaches provided by the club.

“I am pleased that this offer remains by the club. However, fans can travel how they wish to St James’s Park.

“It is well known that the police have argued for an earlier kick-off, and I am pleased that all parties have agreed to this to protect public safety.

“I am now urging all parties to sit down and work through any outstanding issues.”