MIDDLESBROUGH fans have been left fuming after they were allocated just 3,000 for their derby cup tie against the Black Cats.
Sunderland’s Safety Advisory Group decided on the figure, with Boro claiming that the group wanted to allocate even fewer for the fourth round game.
According to cup rules, the Championship side should have got 7,200 ticket, which equates to 15 per cent of the capacity.
But the Safety Advisory Group awarded less than half that because Boro fans refused to sit down on their last Stadium of Light visit in 2008.
The decision has left Teessiders stunned. Season ticket holder Chris Wales, 23, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I found out we had only been allocated 3,000 tickets, we would have sold double that amount.
“I am just happy I managed to get a ticket, but I know a lot of fans who follow the team week in week out away from home who didn’t get one.
“For a lot of fans it’s put a downer on what was a brilliant cup draw.”
Boro sold the allocation in just 90 minutes for the ITV televised game, on January 29.
SAFC fan Tom Lynn expressed sympathy for away supporters.
“I would’ve thought that they could’ve coped with 5,000 or 6,000 fans coming. I think it would’ve added to the atmosphere if that many were there..”
Middlesbrough FC said: “Unfortunately, despite strenuous attempts on our behalf, the club’s allocation was limited to just 3,000 tickets.
“Sunderland’s Safety Advisory Group cited problems at the Stadium of Light in previous derby matches as the reason for the small figure.
“Indeed, initially they were arguing for an even smaller figure of 2,700 tickets, the same figure we were given at our last game where we know significant problems were faced by our fans.
“We managed to obtain a 10 per cent increase on this figure, although we accept the allocation still falls significantly short of demand.”
The Safety Advisory Group helps Sunderland City Council with its powers under Safety of Sports Grounds and fire safety laws.
Chairman Ken Scott said: “In season 2008/2009, the visiting Middlesbrough allocation was reduced to 2,700 as fans were not adhering to Ground Regulations as they continued to stand in seated areas.
“If fans had returned in season 2009/2010, further reductions from 2,700 would have been looked at.
“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. This work has limited further reductions for the number of fans from other visiting clubs this season.
“On this basis, and subject to more details from Sunderland AFC, we could see the previous 2,700 seating allocation increased by ten per cent to 3,000 for this cup tie.”