A couple of weeks ago, after travel restrictions on the Tyne-Wear derby were lifted, I made a comment that rather than seeking to punish bona fide supporters who wanted to support their team the police should apply to close all pubs within a three-mile radius of the ground. My point was that the element which caused bother after the last Newcastle game had spent the afternoon drinking and had then gone out looking for trouble. By targeting pubs rather than fans the police would address the issue at its roots and although some innocent landlords would lose out those who had broken the law by serving drink to already-drunken fans would get their just desserts
The dimmest pupil in geography classes could probably tell you Southampton to Sunderland is a fair old slog, a trip to be planned with care as far in advance as possible to keep costs down and bosses happy.
The people who sit on the safety advisory group for Sunderland AFC – representatives from the club, Northumbria police, the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue, the North East Ambulance Service, the Sports Grounds Safety Authority and the local authority – are not dim.
The police have a hard enough job gaining and keeping public sympathy and understanding when they act with sensitivity, tact and a sense of fair play. How much worse it is when they appear to care little about the impact their decisions have on ordinary people. Let Pete Sixsmith climb on to his Soapbox and begin his tantrum with Sky and Mike Ashley also in the firing line …
Yesterday both the Newcastle United and Sunderland websites carried brief statements to the effect that the Tyne/Wear derby on Oct 31 had a changed kick off time. What had been a 4pm. start was now scheduled for 1.30pm “on police advice”.
Well, isn’t that just bloody marvelous.