Tyne Wear derby - Information for fans
19 Mar 2016 15:47 PM[View Full Size]
Northumbria Police have finalised plans for this weekend's Tyne-Wear derby.
Around 3,000 Sunderland fans will be travelling to the game for the 1.30pm kick-off at St James' Park in Newcastle on Sunday.
Police have consulted fans of both clubs ahead of the game and asked them what they would like to see in the policing operation.
And as a result away supporters will have more options than ever before when deciding how to travel to the game.
Coaches will be placed in Sunderland city centre for the first time but fans will also be able to get the coaches from the Stadium of Light.
Some independent supporters coaches also said they wanted to make their own way to the stadium without a police convoy so for the first time they will be allowed to enter St James' Park unescorted.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said the force recognises the importance of the match but they also have a duty to reassure those people who are not in Newcastle for the football.
He said: "In my opinion this is one of the best derby matches in the country and in the world and that is something the region should be proud of.
"But we must not forget that there will also be people in Newcastle who are not attending the match including shoppers, church goers and people attending the Comic-Con event at the Metro arena.
"There are more transport options for travelling fans than ever before and I would urge supporters to make best use of the coaches that have been subsidised by Sunderland football club.
"We want fans to work with us to make it a derby to be proud of but violent or abusive behaviour will not be tolerated and if anybody steps out of line they will be arrested.
"There will be a highly visible policing presence and anyone in the region on Sundayshould be reassured that our number one priority is the safety of the public.
"My message to fans is to enjoy your day. This is a fantastic occasion between two great football clubs and the headlines should be about what happens on the pitch not off it."
Police have worked closely with partners to secure an agreement with all licencees across the force area not to serve alcohol before 9am which minimises the likelihood of alcohol-related disorder.
Following the game Sunderland fans will be asked to remain in their seats for a short period of time after the final whistle but the concourse will remain open so they will have access to refreshments.
Once supporters do leave they will be directed to either the supporters coaches or to the direct trains at Central Station. However, there will still be a large number of police officers in the area to disrupt any potential disorder.
Police have advised that Central Station is going to be extremely busy after the game as they work with Sunderland fans to help get them return home on the train and Metro services.
As a result, police and partners are asking Newcastle fans work with them and use Monument Metro station after the full-time whistle as it will be far quicker than Central Station.