Sunderland fans welcome Stadium of Light's England coup

Sunderland fans have welcomed news the Stadium of Light is to host its first England international game in more than a decade.

Saturday, 5th March 2016, 5:00 am
England take on Turkey at the Stadium of Light in the last international it hosted, back in 2003.

The Football Association announced yesterday the national side will take on Australia at the stadium on Friday, May 27, as one of three warm-up matches ahead of the Euro championships.

Roy Hodgson’s men will kick off their preparations by taking on Turkey at Manchester City’s Eastlands Stadium before heading to Wearside, then face Portugal at Wembley on Thursday, June 2.

All three games will be broadcast live by ITV Sport.

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The Stadium of Light has twice hosted the senior national side and it proved a happy hunting ground – England defeated Belgium 2-1 in 1999 in a 2002 European Championships qualifier, and ran out 2-0 winners against Turkey in a European Championship qualifying game in 2003.

Sunderland Supporters’ Association chairman George Forster is looking forward to welcoming England back to Wearside and is calling on the FA to make sure local fans get the chance to see their heroes.

“I am very, very pleased,” he said.

The game would be good for the profile of the city as well as the club, said George.

“We have missed out on televised games lately and I just think, the more the better, so this is absolutely wonderful.

“I just hope they make sure the ticket prices reasonable so a lot of people can go.

“Let’s have a full house, make a real effort.”

The news was popular with visitors to the Echo’s Facebook page, too.

Andrew Lee, who lives in Adelaide, South Australia, wrote: “Born in Sunderland, live in Australia – can’t wait for this,” while Graham Lee said: “Good news for Sunderland and businesses!!!” and Jackie Coulthard added: “Great for Sunderland.xx”

Priority tickets for the game will go on sale to England Supporters Club members from March 14.

Tickets will not be available directly from Sunderland AFC or the Stadium of Light ticket office.