Police chiefs have announced unexpected plans to reduce security for Newcastle United and Sunderland supporters for December’s Tyne-Wear derby
According to reports in the Independent and on Tyneside the fierce rivals, will be allowed to mix before and the match after Northumbria Police said Sunderland supporters will not be escorted from Central Station to Newcastle’s St. James Park stadium.
The long-running tension between fans of the two teams has ensured a well-planned policing operation is always in place during matches.
But Chief Supt Steve Neill, who is in charge of policing the matches, said he hoped the disorder witnessed in the 2013 derby is now a thing of the past, according to the Chronicle Live.
The notorious 2013 incident saw a police horse attacked by a Newcastle supporter after violence erupted when the team was defeated in the derby by Sunderland.
However, the relationship between the two teams appeared to take a more positive turn when Sunderland supporters raised over £20,000 in memory of Newcastle fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who were killed in the MH17 crash.
Chief Supt Neill said: “My message to fans is this - It’s your derby. These are always fantastic occasions and it’s going to be even more so this year.
“It is 21 December, people are going to be excited about Christmas, and people will be excited for the football match and I want that excitement to really come through on the day and for it to be a really positive experience for everyone, that’s the ethos of the whole police operation.
“The fans want the passion of the derby but some of the things that have happened in previous years now need to be consigned to history. The disorder of 2013 reflected badly on everybody concerned.
“We need to use Christmas and the very sad deaths of Liam Sweeney and John Alder and make sure 21 December is a positive legacy for the future.
“This is about two groups of passionate supporters coming together. And having the sheer number of such passionate football fans in such close proximity is a great thing to celebrate.”
Newcastle are currently 7th and Sunderland 15th with just 7 points between them.