Why away fans may be moved pitch-side at Sunderland next season under Premier League rules
Sunderland AFC are looking into how they can relocate away supporters at the Stadium of Light under new Premier League guidelines.
A report released by the league could affect the Black Cats as early as next season, should they survive in the top flight.
At least one block of away fans will need to be located pitch-side at every game.
At present, visiting supporters at the Stadium of Light are placed in the top tier of the North Stand.
However, the club will have to make provisions for some supporters to be in the lower tier if they remain a Premier League club for the 2017-18 campaign.
Explaining the new guidelines, Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore told Sky Sports News: “Basically you won’t be able to be stuck up in the third tier, out in the corner, if you’re an away fan.
“Pitch-side is the easiest way of describing it but clearly some ground configurations (mean) there might be some gap between where the seats actually are, and there might be something else in between that and the pitch.
“It’s about atmosphere. One of the unique things about our game, particularly in England, is the amount of away fans and the noise they create.
“When an away goal is scored, you want that atmosphere and interaction between the two sets of fans.”
At the Stadium of Light, away fans were located behind the goal in the South Stand until the summer of 2012, when they were moved to the top tier at the opposite end.
The new rule was agreed upon by the 20 Premier League clubs, and any clubs promoted to the division next summer will not be able to prevent it coming into place.
That means Newcastle United, should they win promotion, would also need to change the configuration of St James’s Park, where away supporters are currently located in a top tier.
Meanwhile, the report also revealed that the average Premier League ticket price for adults this season is £31.