Yes, you read that headline right. 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.
Aware of this Sunderland – seemingly bound for a second successive relegation – had no cash turnstiles open for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich and are expected to do likewise for their next two home fixtures.
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.
In 1987, when the Wearsiders were demoted to the third tier for the first time in their history, more than 1,000 Newcastle fans appeared at Roker Park to cheer on Gillingham during the play-off second leg which they won on away goals, consigning Sunderland to the old Third Division.
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.
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