Northumbria Police have predictably given a very public warning to both Newcastle and Sunderland fans ahead of the match on Easter Sunday.
The constabulary are promising to deal ‘swiftly and firmly’ with those ‘intent on causing problems’.
Also very predictably, the 4pm kick-off has been referenced as an extra problem. No doubt if there did end up being major unrest on Sunday then we can be sure the police will be using it as a stick to demand earlier kick-offs in the future.
Of course, this totally ignores the fact that the match causing the most hassle for the police was the one in April 2013 when the kick-off was 12 noon.
The reality of course is that if anybody wants to cause trouble then they will regardless of the timing and that April 2013 match, saw that the vast majority of those arrested hadn’t even been to the match.
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill, who is the match commander in charge of police operations on Sunday gave the following statement:
“The majority of supporters are there to enjoy the game and soak up the occasion that is the Wear-Tyne derby.
“There are a minority who are intent on causing problems and our message to those people is that trouble will not be tolerated and anyone who puts the safety of supporters at risk on the day will be dealt with swiftly and firmly.
“After the reverse fixture in December we met with supporters and received positive feedback on our policing approach to the game.
“We have decided to again adopt this approach, with supporters being able to make their own way to the game without the traditional escort.
“We are prepared for every eventuality. We are all working together to make sure that all supporters get home safely. Although the 4pm kick-off brings with it some additional challenges our priority remains the same, the safety of the public.”
The talk of no ‘traditional escort’ won’t of course mean no escort for those on trains and metros, the reality of course being that at Newcastle in December there were a number of small escorted group of Sunderland fans taken up to the ground, rather than one big ‘traditional escort’.