Chris Coleman reacts to decision to close Sunderland's Stadium of Light cash turnstiles to keep out Newcastle fans

The Stadium of Light.
The Stadium of Light.
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Chris Coleman says safety comes first and he understands the reasons behind Sunderland closing cash turnstiles for the remaining home games to keep out Newcastle fans.

Coleman insists the Newcastle fans he has met since taking charge at Sunderland have been "fantastic" but he understands the reasons behind the move.

Chris Coleman.

Chris Coleman.

There had been suggestions on social media that Newcastle supporters may try to gain entry to the Stadium of Light to celebrate Sunderland's potential relegation to League One, with the Black Cats six points adrift.

Cash turnstiles were closed for Tuesday night's 1-1 draw with Norwich City, with reports some Newcastle fan were stopped from entering the stadium at the club ticket office.

The cash turnstiles will remain closed for the last two home games against Burton a week on Saturday and the season finale against title hopefuls Wolves on May 6.

Any Newcastle fans looking to attend either of those games will be turned away.

Anyone wanting to buy tickets will need to have a purchase history and must do so from the box office.

Coleman, speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Reading trip, said: "I totally see the security side of it, I get why and obviously after liaising with the police they have to listen to them, I understand why they would do that because safety has to come first.

"Don't get me wrong I want to see the Stadium of Light full with as many Sunderland people as we can fit but I get why the police and club have come to that decision."

Coleman added: "Football is football.

"You are always going to get one team laughing at another, especially if if they are two derby teams.

"All the Newcastle fans I bump into are fabulous with me, they don't want to see us suffer, they want the derby games back, all the Newcastle fans I speak to - proper Newcastle fans - they are fantastic.

"In any walk of life in any industry there is a small percentage unsavoury but that is in any industry.

"All the Newcastle fans I speak to don't want to see us where we are, they want us back up there so they can play us, they want the derby games."

The measures are intended to avoid a repeat of 1987, when hundreds of Newcastle fans turned up to Roker Park to see Sunderland relegated to the old Third Division by Gillingham.

That was the first time Sunderland had been demoted to the third tier of English football.