Play safe appeal to derby fans

Dejected Newcastle fans are escorted back to the Metro station at St Peters after watching their team lose last season's Stadium of Light derby  2-1.
Dejected Newcastle fans are escorted back to the Metro station at St Peters after watching their team lose last season's Stadium of Light derby 2-1.

POLICE have appealed to fans from both sides to make sure this weekend’s Wear/Tyne derby is a “passionate but peaceful one”.

The match kicks off at 4pm on Sunday, with the Black Cats looking to make it five wins in a row.

“Our message is that trouble will not be tolerated and anyone who puts the safety of supporters at risk will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.”

Manager Dick Advocaat will be hoping to emulate Paolo di Canio and Gus Poyet, who both recorded their first wins in the SAFC hotseat against the Magpies.

Operations Commander Chief Superintendent Steve Neill said: “The majority are there to enjoy the game and soak up the occasion.

“We know they are passionate occasions and the majority of fans enjoy the day safely and peacefully.

“There is a minority intent on causing problems. Trouble will not be tolerated and anyone who puts the safety of supporters at risk will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.

“Our role is to help supporters enjoy the day and ensure the match passes safely for everyone.”

This season has seen a thawing in relations between fans after Sunderland supporters raised thousands in memory of Liam Sweeney and John Alder, killed in the crash of Malaysian airlines flight MH17 on their way to Newcastle’s pre-season tour.

Sunderland city centre is expected to be busy on Sunday and Sheepfolds North and Sheepfolds Road will be closed.

Security barriers to guide away supporters will be in place but left open and only used if required. One barrier will be closed at the North Stand for health and safety reasons.

“Supporters have shown the day can be a passionate yet peaceful one and although the 4pm kick-off on Easter Sunday brings some additional challenges our priority remains the same – the safety of the public,” said Chf Supt Neill.

“We are prepared for every eventuality and I’d ask all supporters to respect the occasion, their clubs, other supporters, police and club staff - we are all working together to make sure the day is a success and all supporters get home safely.”