Dirty Tackle

Sunderland suspend season tickets of fans who stand up during games

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Rival fans at Premier League games have mocked one another with chants of "Sit down, shut up!" for many years, but now it appears the clubs have started issuing similar instructions to their own paying customers.

Due to an "increasing number of complaints," Sunderland has suspended the season tickets of many supporters who ruin the match day experience by standing throughout the game.

The club issues a warning on its website — mainly directed at those who stand at the Stadium of Light's South Stand — and persistent offenders have now have their seats taped up. Punishing those who stand too often by reducing their chances of sitting down, after all, makes perfect sense.

The Guardian quotes Sunderland head of safety and security Paul Weir:

"We certainly don't wish to spoil the enjoyment of any supporters, we want a vibrant lively matchday atmosphere just as much as the fans do, but we also have legal obligations that we must be seen to be adhering to.

"We also have a duty of care to all of our supporters, including elderly and disabled fans who have contacted us very concerned that their enjoyment on a match day is being compromised because people around them stand throughout the game."

It is fair enough to ensure that fans of all ages and abilities get a good view of the game, but would it not make more sense to ensure the elderly and disabled are not seated behind areas where the more "boisterous" fans prefer to sit/stand?

Most stadia have seating blocks or stands where the fans who prefer to stand and chant tend to congregate. If those who are not vertically inclined are encouraged to sit in different areas of the ground, there will be no need for fan suspensions or killjoy antics.

Regardless of health and safety issues, punishing passionate fans for creating a lively atmosphere does not seem like a very smart move — particularly at a club like Sunderland, where this season's average attendance is around 9,000 below capacity.