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Newcastle and Sunderland in row with police over kick-off times

HUGE OPERATION ... police escort Sunderland fans into St Jamess Park last year.

HUGE OPERATION ... police escort Sunderland fans into St Jamess Park last year.

NEWCASTLE United and Sunderland have announced they will arrange future derbies at kick-off times to suit themselves, the Premier League and broadcasters after a falling-out with Northumbria Police.

The clubs issued a joint statement last night, questioning Northumbria Police’s assertion that it had no say over direct changes to kick-off times, in particular the Tyne-Wear derbies.

Newcastle and Sunderland have highlighted a number of occasions where they say Northumbria Police rejected kick-off times later than 1.30pm for derby games.

In response, Sunderland have scrapped plans to make the next trip to Tyneside on February 1 a ‘bubble match’, where fans with tickets would only be allowed to travel on official club coaches.

A joint statement from the clubs said: “For Northumbria Police to issue a statement stating that they do not direct changes to kick-off times is quite frankly false and absurd - and conflicts with the respectful and responsible manner in which both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC have engaged with the police over many years with regard to the derby fixture.

“In light of Northumbria Police’s latest statement, Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC will now inform the Premier League that all future fixtures between the two clubs will be available for kick-off times to suit the clubs, the League and their broadcast partners, if applicable, and will expect Northumbria Police to police these games, especially given the considerable costs both clubs incur for such special police services.

“After considering the police position, Sunderland AFC will be withdrawing the terms and conditions of ticket sales which previously stated that all supporters must attend the game on official transport.”

Newcastle and Sunderland’s statement comes in light of Northumbria Police denying it has the power to make changes to kick-off times.

Assistant chief constable Jo Farrell said on www.northumbria.police.uk: “As we have said previously, Northumbria Police cannot direct changes to kick-off times or control the issue of tickets and how supporters travel to matches.”

Trouble flared at the Tyne-Wear derby in April last year, with 29 arrests made following Newcastle’s 3-0 defeat to Sunderland at St James’s Park, a game which kicked off at midday.

However, the two clubs pointed to a number of late kick-offs this season in high-profile derby matches, where police forces have been present.

The statement continued: “Police forces up and down the country have been able to police high-profile derby matches for years, including most recently the first Welsh derby in the Premier League, Cardiff v Swansea, on Sunday, 3 November at 4pm, Arsenal v Tottenham at 5.15pm on Saturday, 4 January, and Manchester City v Manchester United on Sunday, 22 September at 4pm.

“In recent years, Northumbria Police have rejected every request made by the clubs for later kick-off slots, including Saturday 5.30pm, Sunday 4pm and Monday 8pm.

“Both clubs have evidence in the form of considerable written correspondence between Northumbria Police, the Premier League and the clubs, which contradicts their statement of yesterday.

“Indeed that correspondence has stated that Northumbria Police would not be prepared to police the evening fixtures requested previously, as well as their confirmation to the Premier League in writing in January 2013 that the force would not support derby matches with kick-off times later than 1.30pm.”

 

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