Sunderland Split Festival to raise funds in tribute to Newcastle fans killed in MH17 disaster

Tributes at St James' Park to the fallen supporters
Tributes at St James' Park to the fallen supporters
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SUNDERLAND’S Split Festival has pledged to support fund-raising in memory of the NUFC fans from the MH17 disaster.

Organisers of the music spectacular, which takes place next month, are donating £5 from all advance tickets bought from now on to the fund set up in memory of Liam Sweeney and John Alder.

Lifelong Magpies fans Liam 28, and 63-year-old John were among the 298 people who died when their plane was shot down by pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine. The pair were on their way to watch Newcastle in a pre-season tour of New Zealand.

Sunderland-mad Gary Ferguson decided to set up an appeal, hoping to raise £100 to buy a floral tribute to the pair after seeing news of the disaster on fans’ forum Ready to Go. The sum has since surpassed £30,000 and has united people from all areas of the North East.

Split Festival organiser, Martyn McFadden, said: “It’s a tragedy that these lads have lost their lives in such circumstances. However, it’s a real testament to the strength and unity of our region that fans from Sunderland and Newcastle have come together and the money raised in their name will be a significant help to others.”

Martyn, who is also editor of SAFC fanzine A Love Supreme, added: “There will always be a healthy rivalry between Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United, but when tragedies like this occur, we pull together and put bragging rights aside. It is a fantastic gesture from Sunderland fans to set up the fund, but both sets of supporters have done themselves proud in the compassion they have shown.”

At the request of the families, the final total from the fund will be split between two cancer charities, the Marie Curie Hospice and the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

l Split Festival will take place in Mowbray Park on the weekend of August 9 and 10 and will feature acts such as Dizzee Rascal, Maximo Park, The Cribs, Ocean Colour Scene Acoustic and many more. Tickets are priced at £30 per day or £50 for the weekend, with under 11s entering for free with a paying adult. Tickets are available from visit