Joseph Tulip says...
I would have like to see the away fans returned to the South Stand, where they were originally. I understand that the stadium was designed with that purpose in mind, so that all related facilities and resources were built in there right at the start.
I’m sure amendments have been made since the switch, but given everything that has happened I would have been in favour of a move back to the original set up.
I appreciate that the South Stand is now the Roker End and everything that goes with it, including the impressive flag displays and all the pride and effort associated with that. However, imagine the atmosphere that could be created in the North Stand with three tiers of Sunderland voices in there.
I have noted that the North West Upper will not be open for season cards and this is probably to do with segregation.
A return to the South Stand for away supporters would avoid such a gap, while allowing Crazy Corner fans to renew old acquaintances with visiting groups in terms of rousing the atmosphere.
Perhaps the family enclosure would have to be moved to allow any return to for away fans to the South Stand, which could be another issue.
Andrew Parrington says...
I’m honestly surprised. After the incidents earlier in the season, and the announcement yesterday regarding the opening of the premier concourse, it felt like momentum was in favour of a move back to the lower bowl.
I thought (and still do) that moving them back down would be positive both in terms of safety and atmosphere in the ground.
The statement the club have given is quite mysterious, as it lists the new bridge and sheepfolds development, alongside safety as a reason to keep away fans where they are.
I just don’t see how it is safer to have away fans above ours. The statement also says that the ban on coins and vapes has been a success, but has there been enough time since it was implemented in October to really prove that?
I guess this statement settles the issue for next season but I won’t be surprised if and when we start talking about this again before too long.
Jon Guy says...
I think it’s a good idea to keep the away fans up in the gods.
You don’t want the away fans down close to the pitch where they can interact with their players and can act as a focal point for the opposition. The issue we need to address is how we stop the away fans from throwing missiles down on the fans in the lower tier.
We have had some nasty incidents in the recent past and it may need investment in more robust mesh, which won’t allow objects to be thrown or dropped.
That aside, we want to make the Stadium of Light as intimidating as possible, and much of that is down to us as fans to create the right atmosphere. However, having away fans down on the lower level might add a bit to the atmosphere, but they’re best left up on the top tier where they can’t make too much of an impact and spur their team on.
It’s the right decision, but I say we need to keep the fans below safe from any objects being thrown.
Kyle Garrett says...
From a selfish point of view I’m glad they are staying put - if they were moved to the South East Corner like was rumoured, it would have meant that I’d have had to move my season ticket and so would all the people around me.
Having said that, the atmosphere needs work and one of the ways that would have been helped would be to move them down to the lower bowl. The home atmosphere has been flat for a while now, so any attempt to improve it would be welcome.
They need to be sure that keeping away fans up the top is going to be sound from a safety point of view as too many times in recent years there have been items thrown down to the home fans in the north stand.
Malcolm Dugdale says...
I’d rather they were moved, but I can see the benefits both sides.
The throwing of objects is way harder when you don’t have the elevation, so a lower location, or somewhere that this is reduced in likelihood due to fewer fans below the odd away idiot or two makes sense.
The club seems to have ruled out safety nets but something needs to be done, especially regarding these flares and stuff.
One thing I will say on atmosphere is the acoustics of that upper north stand sometimes help a reasonably small amount of away fans to be quite loud.
Getting Sunderland fans in that oversized echo box and putting the away lot somewhere else, ideally where they will lack any natural amplification and cannot harm our lads and lasses, that will help us on both fronts.
Without all the data the club has been looking at it’s hard to criticise but making it safer for us and quieter for them would do me.
Doesn’t look like I’m getting my way, though.