FIVE football fans have been arrested by police investigating a suspected organised brawl outside a city centre bar ahead of a Premier League match.
Police today (Tuesday, February 12) detained five Sunderland supporters in connection with what they believe to have been a pre-arranged fight with rivals from West Ham on Saturday, January 12.
Officers also released CCTV stills of another 20 Black Cats’ fans they want to question in connection with the violence outside Revolution Bar, at Low Row, in Sunderland at about 2.15pm.
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About 50 people were involved in the fighting, which took place in front of city centre shoppers and left a number of people injured.
Northumbria Police this morning arrested three people in Sunderland and another one each in Chester-le-Street and South Shields on suspicion of violent disorder. All five are now being questioned in police custody.
Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, Sunderland Area Commander, said: "I must stress this sort of incident is extremely unusual. Tens of thousands of people were at that match and the overwhelming majority of football fans were there to support their team and have an enjoyable afternoon out.
"However, anyone taking part in violence or disorder either before, during, or after football matches will not be tolerated and this action demonstrates the tough stance we will take on anyone suspected of being involved in such behaviour".
Footage of the incident shot by a member of the public on a mobile phone and posted on You Tube appears to show about 20 young men in a stand-off in the street followed by a fight.
Police say they believe all the fans shown on the CCTV images are Sunderland fans and appealed for help in tracing them.
Chief Superintendent Blyth added: "Behaviour such as this will not be tolerated and, by working alongside us, fans can help us to prevent those involved from attending matches.
"I'd appeal for the help of the public to identify those people in the images who we need to trace and speak to about the disorder which took place before the match."
Anyone who recognises the people shown in the images are asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800-555-111.
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