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6 January 2014, 07:15
Sunderland AFC has announced discounts for tickets for next month's Tyne-Wear derby at St James' Park.
Adult tickets are currently priced at £47 and will now be reduced to £27, over 65 and full-time student concessions will be £18 and under 18s will be priced at just £5.
All Sunderland supporters attending the game are required to travel to St James' Park on official transport.
This will include a fleet of buses departing from the Stadium of Light, official supporters' branch transport, which will depart from their normal locations and a number of departure points across the region (to be confirmed shortly), as the club works to minimise any inconvenience to its fans.
All coach transport, including the official supporters' branch buses, will be provided free of charge by Sunderland AFC.
Sunderland AFC's chief executive Margaret Byrne has explained the rationale behind the decision in her programme notes ahead of Tuesday night's Capital One Cup semi final 1st leg, to give supporters a clear understanding of why the change has had to be made.
"I understand and sympathise with the concerns expressed by our fans and I can assure them it is not an approach that we have agreed to lightly.
The reality is that all clubs, for games such as this deemed as 'high risk', have to request special police services in order to comply with the conditions of the Safety Certificate issued by the local authority.
The police then determine the number of officers they require to provide those special services. With the events after last years' derby game and the damage caused in Newcastle City Centre, the requirements are more stringent on both clubs and include more than just special police services.
Northumbria Police have identified that a major cause of potential problems (and where our supporters are most at risk) is in and around Central Station and on the walk to St James' Park from this area. Hence, our supporters travelling to the game by Metro became an issue.
Likewise, supporters driving through independently and the police having no control of their whereabouts presented a further safety risk to them.
Again, I must stress the focus is on ensuring our supporters safety, not because of any risk our supporters pose.
On one hand, we have Northumbria Police highlighting, quite rightly, how the safety of supporters and the wider public cannot be jeopardised and on the other hand we have the Premier League frustrated that our games cannot be televised in later slots, like other clubs' derby fixtures, as they are not permitted to be played after a certain time.
We as a club are also frustrated with the situation and are trying to find a workable compromise that all parties are happy with.
I know many supporters will be inconvenienced by the arrangements and we are very sorry for that. We are trying to minimise this inconvenience as much as possible and I hope supporters will understand the reasons behind this change."
SAFC season card holders who have eight or more loyalty points can apply for tickets online at www.safc.com/ticketing or in-person at the Stadium of Light ticket office.
The deadline for applications is 5:00pm today (Monday 6th January).
Any supporter who has already reserved tickets but does not wish to travel on the official transport will be able to refund their match ticket.