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The first Tyne-Wear derby in eight years is set to take place this weekend as Sunderland welcome Newcastle to the Stadium of Light in the FA Cup.
Since their last meeting in 2016, both clubs have been through a lot with Sunderland having experienced a double relegation to League One and Newcastle now taken over by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund (PIF).
The Tyne-Wear derby used to be one of the fiercest games of the season when both teams were regulars in the Premier League and the division has undoubtedly missed the two North East clubs going at it twice per season.
In the run-up to the match, Newcastle sit ninth in the Premier League, while rivals Sunderland sit only 16 league places below them in sixth in the Championship.
The drama was never confined to pitch level though, with off-the-field trouble the norm whenever the two sides used to meet, and the police will be hoping that absence has made the heart grow fonder.
Unfortunately though, that is unlikely to be the case and as a result, the police have already put several measures in place to try and minimise the risk of further public disorder on Saturday.
Police warnings ahead of Tyne-Wear derby
When the draw was first made, the Police immediately put an order in place that means the Newcastle away fans will only be able to enter the Stadium of Light if they travel to the match via Newcastle United coaches. These coaches are set to leave St James' Park on Saturday morning and supporters will only receive their match tickets once they get off the coach at the stadium.
The police have also revealed that there will be a larger police presence than normal at the stadium and across both cities on the matchday. With the match drawing ever closer, Neil Hutchison, Chief Superintendent of Northumbria Police, issued the following statement:
“Ever since the fixture was announced, extensive discussions have been held with all parties and a lot of work has been ongoing to facilitate the safe delivery of such a large-scale event.
“We would therefore ask all fans to work with us to help ensure the match goes ahead without incident. We know the overwhelming majority of supporters will follow the advice being shared by ourselves and their respective clubs and will be going to the match to enjoy the occasion.
“However, we want to make it clear to anyone who is intent on using the game as an excuse to cause trouble that this will not be tolerated. Anyone found responsible will subsequently face tough action, including criminal prosecution and being handed a football banning order.
“As well as the increased police presence at the ground, we will also have additional officers in both city centres. Any disorder will be clamped down upon and those involved can expect to be arrested. Ultimately, we want to ensure all supporters can have a safe and enjoyable time – and everyone can play their part in achieving that result.”
Tyne-Wear derby: What the fans are saying
Sunderland fans sense an opportunity
I had absolutely no fear of Newcastle when the draw was made and I have no fear of them now.
We’re in a good place; they’re in a tailspin and anything can happen in the FA Cup. Saturday will be huge, and our lads should need zero motivation.
Bring it on. #SAFC
— Philip West (@Philip_RJ89) January 1, 2024
Newcastle fans consider a loss a sackable offence
If we lose to Sunderland on Saturday, I think Howe has to go.
— Ian (@ToonIanB) January 2, 2024