‘Enjoy the best derby in the world’: Police call for calm in Newcastle

Sunderland fans escorted by police officers to St James Park.
Sunderland fans escorted by police officers to St James Park.

Police chiefs say officers will be keeping a close eye on pubs and clubs across South Tyneside as Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby battle is played out in Newcastle.

This weekend sees the Magpies host fierce rivals Sunderland at St James’s Park with both sides desperate for points to escape relegation from the Premier League – and almost 3,000 Black Cats fans making the trip through.

Chief Superintendant Steve Neill.

Chief Superintendant Steve Neill.

More than 25 coaches will start boarding at the Stadium of Light at 10.30am.

Match commander and chief superintendent at Northumbria Police, Steve Neill, said: “My message to fans is come and enjoy what I think is the best derby in the world. We’re going to have four different coach convoys as a result of discussions with fan groups. We are not treating everybody as one entity though.

“For the first time ever, there will be some fans coming without an escort. Coach drivers will ring when they are to close to Newcastle and officers will respond.”

Chief Supt Neill also spoke about the police operation in South Tyneside on match day, with a large contingent of both clubs’ supporters coming from the borough.

“South Tyneside is always very focal because of its fanbase,” he said.

“We want to make sure that people are safe to go about their business if they are going to other events, going to church or are out with their families.

“In 2013 (when there was widespread disorder in Newcastle city centre following the derby game), I think we had a watershed moment.

“I think now there is a lot more confidence and understanding from fans about how they want to be policed.”