Calls for away fans' seating to be moved at Sunderland games after Coventry and Portsmouth supporters have tickets capped

City leaders have called for away fans’ seats to be moved at the Stadium of Light after a string of missile-related incidents – which included a councillor being pelted with a pie.

Monday, 1st July 2019, 12:36 pm
Updated Monday, 1st July 2019, 7:19 pm
The Stadium of Light. Picture by PA

Both games were marred by objects being thrown from the visitors’ section.

The disturbances led to ‘discussions’ between Northumbria Police and the club recommending limiting Portsmouth to 2,000 tickets and Coventry to just 1,500. This was agreed by Sunderland City Council’s Regulatory Committee on July 1.

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According to a council officer: “Coventry fans discharged pyrotechnics on five occasions including throwing objects into home fans below. Bottles and other missiles were also thrown.

“A number of Sunderland fans were left shocked and injured and many left the north stand, instead seeking refuge in other parts of the stadium or leaving the stadium.

“There were 100 written complaints from supporters saying how unsafe they were made to feel.”

Sunderland played Coventry at home on April 13, losing 4-5, with a total attendance of 36,134, of whom 2,683 were away supporters.

Portsmouth’s visit on April 27 was drawn 1-1 with a total crowd of 41,29, including 3,219 Pompey fans, and saw ‘a number of pyrotechnic devices recovered in the approaches’ to the stadium and a delay to restarting the game due to safety concerns.

Coun Juliana Heron said: “I witnessed both incidents, at Portsmouth it wasn’t just pyrotechnics, there were also coins being thrown, so I would agree with in reduction in numbers.”

She added: “Where they were sitting was children and families – the behaviour of both clubs was disgraceful.”

Coun Kevin Johnston said: “I’ve been a Sunderland supporter all my life, I’ve travelled to away games, and we need to be aware it’s a small minority that have caused this – we have to be careful not to tar all the supporters of those clubs.”

Coun Johnson was one of several councillors who asked whether SAFC would consider moving the away section to a lower area of the stadium.

Coun Doris MacKnight recalled a fellow councillor who ‘had a pie thrown at him’ by a visiting fan shortly after the away section was moved to its current position.