Quinn: Sunderland consider away fans switch

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SUNDERLAND are looking at ways of moving away fans to a different part of the Stadium of Light after concerns were raised separately by owner Ellis Short and manager Steve Bruce.

Away fans are currently housed behind the goal in the South Stand, but there has long been a view that the travelling fans to Wearside are given far too prominent a place in the ground.

And now the club plans to look at the viability of shifting away supporters to a different section of the stadium.

Chairman Niall Quinn revealed: “It is something we are looking into, we will look into how we might do it.

“But it isn’t straightforward by any means because, when the place was built, it was specifically designed the way it is and a big change like this would be quite complicated and potentially very costly.

“There are prison cells in the away section which would need to be moved, the police monitoring system is directly above the away fans and that would have to be moved, too.

“There are also things to look at like changes to drainage, access, the possible installation of lifts and safety issues.

“As things stand, the ground completely complies with safety standards and any changes would mean those standards would have to be looked at afresh.”

Both Short and Bruce have expressed their reservations about the current situation.

Bruce told the Echo earlier this season: “I don’t see why fans come to our stadium and get some of the best seats in the house, when the same doesn’t apply to us elsewhere.

“But, as a manager, my main concern is that when clubs, especially clubs with big travelling supports, come to our ground they are placed directly behind a goal and are in a great position to affect the atmosphere and influence the game.

“I don’t see why visiting teams should have that advantage coming to our place when we rarely have it at theirs.” Short’s objections were more succinct – he was particularly riled that Newcastle put Sunderland fans up in the Gods at St James’s Park while Sunderland gave Newcastle supporters much better and more prominent seats on Wearside.

Explaining that the club will commission a feasibility study for the summer, chief executive Steve Walton said: “It’s an important issue and, with it also being something that the owner is very interested in, it will get the scrutiny it deserves.

“It will be a question of how costly and how viable it is because it would be a very complicated process.

“It won’t happen for next season.

“But we are looking at that work and, if it is feasible, the club would press ahead with those plans.”