At a time when Sunderland surely need every bit of support they can possibly get, they have taken a drastic move to prevent Newcastle fans getting into the Stadium of Light – but which also significantly hinders their own supporters.
The Mackems have five games remaining and play Norwich tonight.
If Sunderland lost and Bolton and Birmingham win, then the Wearsiders would effectively be relegated, as they’d be left 10 points from safety and only four games remaining.
Crowds at the Stadium of Light have plummeted with a drop from forty thousand in the Premier League, to only around fifteen thousand in the ground as fans desert their club.
Sunderland have desperately tried to attract any additional support by charging as little as £1 per ticket for Under 16s, as well as having cash turnstiles available every match.
To top it off, tonight sees their vital home game clash with a potentially epic Champions League rematch of Man City v Liverpool on TV, so even harder to attract floating voters/fans to tonight’s game at the Stadium of Light.
They have taken the shock move of closing all the cash turnstiles, making all fans without season tickets having to queue at the ticket office (which on a night game is always a bigger pain with more people arriving late after work etc) AND even Sunderland fans can only buy tickets if they can prove they have been to previous matches.
Their club insisting on fans having a previous purchase history.
So can you imagine the scenario…over 30,000 empty pink seats inside the stadium and an unsuspecting Sunderland fan turns up with his kids after deciding to give the club their backing, then gets turned away because they can’t prove they are Sunderland fans!
This clearly is in response to recent claims that Newcastle fans were looking to go to the Stadium of Light for the final Sunderland home match against Wolves, in an attempt to repeat the Gillingham match of 1987. Up to 2,000 Newcastle fans went to Roker Park to see Sunderland fall into the third tier, with fans allowed to pay in on the day.
So Sunderland getting in early and taking these drastic steps.
I couldn’t have imagined any Newcastle fans bothering to go down to Sunderland tonight for a laugh but they have only two home games left after this one.
On Sunday 6 May the Mackems are home to Wolves, Newcastle having no game that day as it is Watford away on the Saturday.
Whilst the other Sunderland home game is Burton on Saturday 21 April, Newcastle away at Everton on the Monday night.
Sunderland fans have reacted on their main Ready To Go message board, clearly believing that this move is purely to do with the ‘threat’ of Newcastle supporters wanting to donate cash to their relegation fund, by paying to get into matches.
‘Is this to stop mags?’
‘I’d imagine it is.’
‘Possibly don’t want any cash on the premises for when we go into liquidation later this week.’
‘Queues were really bad at ticket office last time, imagine with no turnstiles on it’ll be worse so allow plenty of time!’
‘This is definitely mag related.’
Sunderland Official Statement:
‘Sunderland AFC face Norwich City in the Sky Bet Championship on Tuesday evening, 7.45pm kick-off, with no cash turnstiles open to home or away supporters.
The Stadium of Light ticket office will be open from 9am until kick-off for on the day sales to home fans only, but those purchasing tickets must have a purchase history from before the Sheffield Wednesday game.
Supporters are asked to arrive as early as possible to ensure they are no delays in purchasing tickets and accessing the stadium.’