Sunderland will close their cash turnstiles for their remaining home matches in order to prevent the attendance of Newcastle fans planning to celebrate the club’s likely relegation to League One.
The decision was taken after the club discovered that a section of Newcastle fans intended to support Sunderland’s opposition in their final two fixtures at the Stadium of Light, taking advantage of the cheaper ticket prices on the doors.
Sky Sports News understands that tickets for the games against Burton and Wolves will only be available from the ticket office, where customers with the required purchase history can be vetted.
This follows a precedent set prior to Sunderland’s 1-1 draw with Norwich on Tuesday night, which left the Black Cats 23rd in the Championship, six points from safety with four games to play.
Highlights of the Sky Bet Championship match between Sunderland and Norwich.
Chris Coleman’s struggling side also face away trips to Reading and second-placed Fulham in their bid to avoid back-to-back relegations.
The club’s measures are intended to avoid a repeat of 1987, when more than 1,000 Newcastle fans turned up to Roker Park to see Sunderland relegated to the old Third Division by Gillingham, the first time the club had been demoted to the third tier of English football.
Seats were smashed by away fans during the Under-23s match between the north-east rivals at the stadium last month. Sky Sports News understands that this has also informed the club’s decision.
Find out how a Newcastle fan used the crossbar challenge to wind up Sunderland supporters on Saturday.
Attendances have been poor at Sunderland this season, with the official attendance on Tuesday night recorded as just under 25,000 – but the absence of many season-ticket holders means the actual figure was likely significantly lower.
Following consistently low numbers this season, the club announced last month that they would close the top tier of the Stadium of Light for 2018/19.