Sunderland have reportedly taken steps to prevent Newcastle fans sneaking into their stadium as the club prepares for a potential second straight relegation down into League One.
The Black Cats are currently second-bottom of the Championship, six points adrift of safety with four matches remaining, and are concerned that rival supporters might be planning to infiltrate their remaining games to ‘gloat’ about the club’s impending doom.
According to the Daily Mail, Sunderland are “aware of the threat” of Newcastle fans descending on the Stadium of Light in “large numbers” with the sole intent of basking in their neighbours’ ongoing misery.
That was what happened in 1987 when Sunderland were last demoted to the third tier and around 1,000 Newcastle supporters turned up at Roker Park to see their relegation play-off against Gillingham.
Sunderland have therefore removed the cash turnstiles from outside their stadium, which allow fans to buy tickets on the way in – starting with Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw against Norwich.
Fans wanting to attend their remaining fixtures will have to purchase tickets from the official box office and be able to present proof of a “purchase history”, thus preventing ‘first-timers’ from entering the stadium.
As well as games against Reading and Burton Albion, Chris Coleman’s team face a tough final two games, the penultimate tie coming away against bang-in-form Fulham before an unenviable finale at home against champions-elect Wolves.