POLICE have backed the decision to change the date of Sunderland’s derby game at Newcastle United for TV.
The match has been moved back almost 24 hours from Saturday, March 3, at 3pm, to Sunday, March 4, with a kick-off time of noon, which has been welcomed by Northumbria Police.
It will also now be televised lived by broadcaster ESPN.
The Black Cats’ FA Cup fourth round clash with Middlesbrough was also arranged for a Sunday and will kick off at 1.30pm on the day this week.
Martyn McFadden, editor of independent Sunderland supporters’ fanzine A Love Supreme, said some fans had had their plans affected.
He said: “Obviously it’s a shame that we have seen both the forthcoming derbies moved to Sunday lunchtime kick-offs for convenience of TV.
“The clubs are clearly happy to take the cash and it’s the fans that have their diaries messed around.
“Making a fuss about it is a bit like after the horse has bolted, though, because if fans wanted to do something about it we should have 20 years ago.
“I suppose football matches kicking off at 3pm on a Saturday has become a bit passé now anyway.”
The Black Cats will be looking to avenge one of the worst results in their recent history when then manager Steve Bruce’s side were humbled 5-1 by the Magpies at the Sports Direct Arena in last season’s fixture.
“I just hope that with Martin O’Neill in charge the players show a different attitude than they did last time,” added Martyn. “But I’m sure they will.”
The reverse fixture at the Stadium of Light earlier this campaign in August was also a midday kick-off, which Newcastle won 1-0.
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “We support the decision for an earlier kick-off and change of date.”
Details on how Sunderland fans can travel from the city to Tyneside for the game will be released in due course by Northumbria Police.