The second to last game of the Premiership season will see us travel to Sunderland to take on Steve Bruce’s team. A former United captain, whose two goals against Sheffield Wednesday towards the end of the 1992/1993 played a significant part in us winning our first title in 26 years, will obviously be professional but I’m sure wouldn’t be devastated if three points there lead to another title for United.
However, if we do win the league at Sunderland, only 1,300 of us will get to see it happen.
Whilst 7,000 reds will pack the away end at the 34,000 capacity Ewood Park in a couple of weeks time, at the 49,000 seater Stadium of Light we will have significantly less.
Sunderland City Council has cut our allocation due to persistent standing, although it’s interesting to note that their committee approves the 7,000 tickets we get at Blackburn as well as the abandonment of ticket allocation reduction at Middlesbrough over the past two seasons, with our fans getting an entire end at Boro away last year.
This has been an issue for several years, with United not receiving the minimum 3,000 tickets we’re entitled to because of the break in safety rules. Last season, 45,408 people attended the same match, leaving 3,592 empty seats – all in the home end.
Now, this might seem fair enough to some, but it is important to note that we are not the only club to have standing fans. Liverpool FC have also had a reduction but have been given 2,300 tickets, as have City, although they been given 2,700 tickets.
It is also interesting to note that fans in the home areas at Sunderland are guilty of persistent standing, although the club are apparently happy to keep dishing out tickets to them.
Sunderland’s safety manager, Paul Weir, says “unless there is some change in current thinking, persistent standing remains a breach in the ground regulations. We are duty bound to encourage people to sit in our all seater stadium in consideration of spectator safety and comfort.”
But does this mean there will only be 1,300 United fans in the ground? Of course not. We will get in the ground one way or another although that will create a greater threat to spectator safety and comfort. Season ticket holders will make a profit on their seats without a second thought whilst others will pay on the gates. Sunderland’s attendance figures show that on average, there are 12,000 empty seats every week so it won’t be too much hassle, it just means that the rich fans go and have to mingle with the Mackems, whilst so few get to sit in the away end.
The decision is being made on Monday, with referce to this report, and it’s not too late for you to have your say.
E-mail the committee’s chairman at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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