Newcastle and Sunderland blast 'absurd' Northumbria Police statement

Last Updated: 07/01/14 7:08pm

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Police arrested 20 people when Sunderland hosted Newcastle in October

Police arrested 20 people when Sunderland hosted Newcastle in October

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Sunderland and Newcastle say they will no longer co-operate with police demands to play derby matches before 1.30pm.

The rival north-east clubs were astonished when Northumbria Police claimed on Monday it had no influence on derby start times.

Both clubs say they have evidence of the force's refusal to sanction kick-off times any later than 1.30pm despite repeated pleas.

And a joint statement from the Premier League rivals makes it clear the police will no longer dictate scheduling.

The statement read: "In recent years, Northumbria Police have rejected every request made by the clubs for later kick-off slots, including Saturday 5.30pm, Sunday 4pm and Monday 8pm.

"Both clubs have evidence in the form of considerable written correspondence between Northumbria Police, the Premier League and the clubs, which contradicts their statement (of Monday).

"Indeed that correspondence has stated that Northumbria Police would not be prepared to police the evening fixtures requested previously, as well as their confirmation to the Premier League in writing in January 2013 that the force would not support derby matches with kick-off times later than 1.30pm.

"For Northumbria Police therefore to issue a statement stating that they do not direct changes to kick-off times is quite frankly false and absurd - and conflicts with the respectful and responsible manner in which both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC have engaged with the police over many years with regard to the derby fixture.

"In light of Northumbria Police's latest statement, Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC will now inform the Premier League that all future fixtures between the two clubs will be available for kick-off times to suit the clubs, the League and their broadcast partners, if applicable, and will expect Northumbria Police to police these games, especially given the considerable costs both clubs incur for such special police services."

Newcastle host Sunderland on February 1, and both clubs are keen to avoid a repeat of the trouble which flared in April after the sides' last St James' Park meeting.

More than 100 arrests were made and one Newcastle supporter was later jailed for punching a police horse.

Police arrested just 20 supporters when Newcastle went to Wearside earlier this season, and in an attempt to minimise trouble next month Sunderland made it a condition of ticket sales that fans travel to Tyneside on official buses.

Northumbria Police's Monday statement said that ruling was not down to them, and Sunderland have now withdrawn the demand.

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