It was the cup draw that Sunderland most definitely didn’t want.
With the only focus on getting promotion, the last thing the Wearside club wanted was the distraction of a sideshow like this Checkatrade Trophy match.
Drawn against the Newcastle United Under 21s for a place in the last eight.
There is also the embarrassment factor, a first team fixture being played against your biggest rival’s kids team.
Then of course you have the security headache of this strange ‘derby’ match.
Northumbria Police already putting out an official statement saying that they will come down hard on any disorder at the match.
No doubt Sunderland wish they could have avoided everything that comes with this match, especially the difficulties presented by a derby game and the friction between fans.
Which then surely explains the relatively extortionate prices they are charging to watch the Sunderland first team take on an under 21s side, in what is basically a worthless competition.
Sunderland charged adults £3 for the previous Checkatrade Trophy but now they are charging five times as much for the Newcastle match, in what looks a clear attempt to deer as many of their fans as possible. The smaller the crowd the easier it will be to control/police on the night.
If Sunderland had drawn the likes of Bury of Accrington Stanley, there is no way they would be charging anything like £15.
Indeed, on Tuesday night Sunderland had a home FA Cup second round replay and only charged £10 for adults, 8,212 turning up to see them lose 1-0 to Walsall.
Sunderland have stated (see below) that this is an all ticket match and they are looking to control the sales as much as possible. No news as yet on Newcastle’s ticket allocation but that will be very interesting to see how many tickets are given to the visitors.
Sunderland official announcement:
‘Sunderland AFC will welcome Newcastle United U21s in the third round of the Checkatrade Trophy next month.
The game is to take place at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday 08 January, kicking off at 7.45pm.
Tickets for the tie are priced at £15 for adults and £5 for under 16s and over 65s. Sunderland supporters are advised that they are required to have a valid customer number and purchasing history recorded on the club’s database in order to buy tickets for this game. There is also a purchase limit of four tickets per supporter in place.
Supporters are also advised that this will be an all-ticket fixture. There will be no ticket sales on the day of the game and cash turnstiles will not be open on the night.
Season card holders will be awarded a Black Cat Point.
Tickets will be sold for the east and south stands initially and will go on sale at 9am on Friday 14 December.’