FUMING football supporters have hit out after it emerged that Sunderland fans travelling to next month’s Tyne-Wear derby might be forced to do so on official coaches.
The move has been slammed by supporters as it could mean that all of those heading for the away end at St James’s Park for the February 1 clash will have to travel on official coaches and be issued with their match tickets on board.
The move was mooted at a Sunderland AFC branch liaison meeting, but the club says a number of options are still being looked at.
Fans have branded the plan a joke, with many saying they will be inconvenienced by having to travel to the Stadium of Light to get on buses despite already living nearer to Newcastle.
Scores of people were arrested as violence flared at last season’s Tyne-Wear derby in Newcastle in April following Sunderland’s 3-0 victory.
Fans took to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Luke Bowley wrote: “If this bubble trip is true, it’s another example of how atrociously Northumbria Police treats Sunderland fans.”
Another user wrote: “Absolute joke.”
Janet Rowan, of the Chester-le-Street branch of the Black Cats’ supporters’ club, was at the meeting when the proposed restrictions on travel arrangements were discussed.
“Everyone is trying to get some sort of compromise that the police are happy with,” she said.
“Things haven’t been finalised, and I know that the club are looking at putting on alternative routes so that fans wouldn’t all have to travel to Sunderland.
“I can understand the police’s problem because for the derby at the Stadium of Light, they can close off Sheepfolds, but St James’s is in Newcastle city centre, where there are loads of back alleys where people can be hiding.”
A police spokesman said: “We are still working with clubs and other partners regarding arrangements for this upcoming fixture, and the information will be released in due course.”