Sunderland take a stand against 38 fans who refuse to sit down and evict them with tough message pinned to their empty seat
13:15 GMT, 27 December 2012
This was the sight which greeted a number of Sunderland fans as the club stepped up its fight against their own supporters yesterday.
The Wearside club have ejected 38 fans from their seats for persistent standing, and have now withdrawn the season tickets of a number of repeat offenders.
Sunderland have now taken a hard-line stance against supporters who, they say, are endangering the safety and enjoyment of all fans
Warning sign: A supporter tweeted this picture of a message left on a seat at the Stadium of Light. It reads: 'This season card has been suspended due to persistent standing'
HIT ON THE ROAD
Sunderland aren't the first club to crack down. Liverpool reduced Manchester United’s away allocation in 2011 due to standing, cutting the number of available tickets from 2,948 to 1,965.
Manchester City, Sunderland and Bolton have also made similar sanctions against United.
The issue has led to major confrontations between fans and stewards during games, and abusive chanting aimed at stewards.
And one supporter, Liam Holister tweeted a photo showing an empty red seat with a warning notice and his own 'disgraceful' observation.
The irony is that the abuse, has come from fans who have been moved to the south stand, earmarked as a singing section by the club, and where away fans were housed until this season.
At the start of this season, visiting supporters were moved to a high section of the north stand.
Yesterday for the visit of Manchester City, the club increased the number of stewards in problem areas and issued another warning to supporters in the match programme, threatening to close areas of the ground unless they take their seats.
Throughout the 1-0 win over champions City, a number of Sunderland fans remained on their feet and they sang the '**** off you stewards we’ll stand if we want’ in the first-half.
Vengeance: Adam Johnson (centre right) scored against his former club
Blunder Joe Hart allowed the ball to slip underneath him
The majority of Premier League clubs throw in a disclaimer to indicate that, at their ‘sole discretion’ they may reject any application for a season ticket, but most indicate quite clearly why a pass may be revoked.
Sunderland’s official club website, however, does not offer any clues as to what may warrant having a season ticket withdrawn, whereas many clubs including northeast rivals Newcastle United publish full terms and conditions online.
The Magpies state on their site that they may cancel a season ticket for 'persistent standing in seated areas whilst the match is in progress’.
Sunderland’s head of safety Paul Weir said: 'The figure for fans ejected due to persistent standing last season as a whole was just 20 so we can see that there has been a significant increase in the early part of the season.
'We certainly don’t wish to spoil the enjoyment of any supporter, we want a vibrant matchday atmosphere just as much as the fans do, but we also have legal obligations that we must be seen to adhering to.
'We also have a duty of care to all our supporters, including elderly and disabled fans who have contacted us very concerned that their enjoyment on a matchday is being compromised because people around them stand throughout the game.
'Naturally we want to ensure a safe, comfortable and enjoyable experience at the Stadium of Light and we’d ask supporters to listen to requests from stewards and help us to eradicate persistent standing for the sake of all fans.'
How many 38 fans have been ejected from their seats at the Stadium of Light
MATT LAWLESS COMMENT: SIT DOWN IF YOU LOVE YOUR CLUB!
Well done, Sunderland. It's refreshing to see a club take a stand against the ‘standers’. Frankly, I'm fed-up with them.
For years, I've had to attempt to tower on tip-toes just to get a glimpse of the action at Upton Park. Why Because from the front row up in the Sir Trevor Brooking lower, everybody wants to neglect their seats. It was the same when I had a season ticket in the Bobby Moore lower. And it really annoys me.
Judging by those at the Stadium of Light, I now know I'm not alone. I go to the games with my parents and it irritates them too.
I pay decent money for my seat (600) and yet I could count on one-hand the number of times I've actually been able to use it (excluding half-time).
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't want to be slumped on it when Mark Noble is stepping up to lash home a penalty. For those moments I absolutely want to stand and enjoy the resulting euphoria on my two feet. But when the ball's not in an advanced attacking position, there's only one place I want to be: in my seat.
Over the years, we've had words of warning at West Ham. Letters, emails, messages in the matchday programme. But no signs on seats like those at Sunderland. And no apparent action from any stewards.
Until the day safe standing is introduced (if ever), please do me a favour: sit down, if you love your club!