A CAP on the number of fans Manchester United can bring to the Stadium of Light has been labelled bad for football.
When the Black Cats face the Red Devils for the last game of the season on May 13 – which could decide the fate of the Premier League title – the number of away fans allowed to attend will be just 2,282.
Martyn McFadden, editor of SAFC fanzine A Love Supreme, has criticised the decision, which was taken because of safety concerns over fans who stand.
He said it was not a good thing for football, and he fears it could open up the possibility of the away fans buying tickets for seats among home supporters.
“I think it’s a bit of a shame that the decision has been made,” he said. “Because they do have a really good away following.
“People are meant to sit, but often they will stand at away games and it definitely happens all over the country.
“I think it’s not a good thing for football in general, and it could cause trouble if the Man United fans buy tickets in the Sunderland end.”
At previous matches supporters of the Manchester club have repeatedly stood up during the game, which has resulted in a cap being placed on how many can now come to Wearside.
A report into the matter said that standing is recognised as a major safety concern because of the risk of injury from falls, surging and crushing.
Ken Scott, chairman of the Stadium of Light Safety Advisory Group, said: “Last season the visiting Manchester United allocation was reduced, as fans on previous visits continued to stand in seated areas.
“As behaviour at that fixture did not improve, it was agreed that for the fixture on 13 May, 2012, the figure will be held at that reduced level but with additional resource dedicated solely to address the issue of standing in seated areas.
“Manchester United has agreed to address the issue of its away fans standing at the Stadium of Light.
“It will put in place stricter controls over the sale of its allocation of tickets.
“It has also agreed to provide additional resources for the stewarding of the match to supplement those already at the disposal of Sunderland AFC.
“Sunderland AFC continues to work with Northumbria Police and members of the Safety Advisory Group, to see that all visiting fans observe regulations at the Stadium of Light.”