Sunderland AFC supporters have hit out after seeing hotel price hikes of 'up to 400%' ahead of their play-off semi-final with Portsmouth.
The Black Cats welcome Pompey in the first-leg of their clash tomorrow evening, on a day in which the North East is already playing host to a number of high-profile sporting events.
Newcastle’s St James’s Park will hold the Heineken Champions Cup final on Saturday evening, while the annual Sunderland 10k, marathon and half-marathon take place across the weekend.
Such an action-packed weekend has naturally led to high demand for hotels in the area - leaving some Sunderland fans priced out of a visit to the Stadium of Light
Jack Ross’ side only discovered their play-off fate last weekend, leaving supporters at the back of the queue when booking hotel rooms.
And for some, that has forced them to shell out almost four times the average price of a hotel room in order to attend the crucial fixture.
John Bottomley, 66, will be attending the game on Saturday - but has been forced to pay prices he feels are ‘ridiculously expensive’ in order to stay in the city following the tie.
Travelodge confirmed that both of their Sunderland hotels were sold out by the end of April - and that they continue to aim to ensure they provide the 'best value to customers'.
But the Sunderland season ticket holder - who is based in Cheshire - has been left feeling ‘angry and ashamed’ by the prices being charged to Sunderland fans.
'It was almost impossible to find a room and the few I found were ridiculously expensive,” explained Bottomley.
“There seemed to be a 400% mark-up in some cases. The usual Travelodge I stay in was charging £169 for a room that usually costs about £42.
“Because I felt I had to be at the match and because I'm daft and can just about afford it I grabbed this room, even though I feel angry and ashamed at being ripped off.
“I am a regular at this hotel, I know the principles of supply and demand but this was a real shocker.
“In the end, I paid even more!- £177 for a room that I could later cancel and I then spent the next few days looking in vain for something cheaper.”
And while Bottomley will be making the journey to the Stadium of Light for what is one of the club’s biggest games of the season, he feels many will be staying away as a result of these prices.
Less than 23,000 tickets have been sold in the home areas of the ground for the crucial match - but that figure is no surprise to Bottomley.
'I know that other long-distance season ticket holders who stay over for night matches are having to give this big game a miss simply because to the slap-up costs,” he added.
“It is on telly after all.'
In a statement, Travelodge said: ‘We can confirm that both of our Sunderland hotels were fully booked out by end of April 2019.
"During this month our average room rate at both hotels was £35.
"At Travelodge, our mission is to always offer the most competitive prices within the marketplace. We daily check all UK hotel room prices and competitively price our rates to ensure we are offering the best value to consumers.’’