Police have banned Newcastle United fans from using public transport to get to the FA Cup clash at the home of their bitter rivals Sunderland this weekend.
Following safety discussions between the authorities and the two clubs, 6,000 Black and Whites fans will be at the Stadium of Light on Saturday lunchtime for Newcastle’s first away derby match since October 2015.
All Newcastle United supporters must travel to the FA Cup third round game on designated coaches from St James’s Park and fans will not receive their match ticket until they get off at the Stadium of Light.
Chief Superintendent Neil Hutchison, of Northumbria Police, explained it would not be safe to allow such large numbers of Newcastle fans to use public transport to get to the match.
There is much excitement for the FA Cup game between Sunderland & Newcastle at the Stadium of Light on Saturday.⚽
Football fans in the North East are known for being amongst the most passionate in the country & this fixture is much-anticipated by supporters of both clubs. (1/7) pic.twitter.com/mP4DKs8GUL
— Northumbria Police (@northumbriapol) January 3, 2024
He said: “Ever since the fixture was announced, extensive discussions have been held with all parties and a lot of work has been ongoing to facilitate the safe delivery of such a large-scale event.
“As a result, all partners involved agreed to a number of conditions. This includes, in order to facilitate a 6,000 away allocation, Newcastle supporters travelling to and from the stadium on designated coaches.
“Without doing so, the public transport system would not be able to accommodate such a large number of supporters safely.”
There will be a large police presence at the ground as well as in both city centres and Mr Hutchison said any disorder “will be clamped down upon”.
“Ultimately, we want to ensure all supporters can have a safe and enjoyable time – and everyone can play their part in achieving that result,” he said.
It is the first time the sides have clashed since March 2016, when they played out a 1-1 draw at St James’s Park in the Premier League.
The 6,000 away allocation represents a larger percentage of Sunderland’s 48,000-plus capacity than would normally be given if the game was a Premier League fixture.
FA Cup rules allow for away allocations of up to 15% of the stadium capacity, subject to the agreement of local safety authorities.
It was understood the coach-only rule was brought in to prevent potential flashpoints on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.