A large police presence will attempt to maintain good order as Middlesbrough face North East rivals Sunderland at the Riverside Stadium today (Sunday February 4).

Cleveland Police has liaised closely with its counterparts from the Northumbria and Durham forces, plus British Transport Police (BTP) as well as with both clubs to ensure ‘derby day’ proceeds as incident-free as possible, both at the stadium and in the streets of Middlesbrough.

Kick-off for the eagerly-awaited Championship fixture has been brought forward to 12-noon for live tv coverage by Sky Sports.

The Cleveland force said it has worked hand-in-hand with “partner” organisations and with both clubs to plan for the large-scale event, expected to attract a 32,000 crowd to the Riverside, “with the aim of everyone being able to have a safe and enjoyable day.”

The Northern Echo: Large police presence will be in attendance both at the Riverside Stadium and in the town centreA statement delivered on the force’s website on the eve of the match said: “This planning helps police and both football clubs, as well as transport providers and local authorities, ensure that those attending the game can do so safely whilst also keeping disruption to a minimum for other members of the public.

“There will be a large police presence in and around the Middlesbrough town centre area, which will see officers engaging with the public and helping to support and direct fans arriving for the match and leaving after the game."

The Northern Echo:

Resources to be deployed will include colleagues from Northumbria Police who will provide mounted section officers, plus officers from BTP and Durham Police, as well as volunteers from Cleveland Special Constabulary.

Temporary Superintendent Paul Richardson said: “With around 32,000 people expected to attend the game this weekend, we know it will be a busy day in Middlesbrough.

“We also know that the majority of supporters come to the game to enjoy the match in a responsible manner.

“Ultimately, as a police force and in conjunction with our partners, we just want to help make sure that everyone can attend safely, experience the game in a fun and friendly atmosphere and make it home safely afterwards.”

But he warned: “Anyone who intends to use the game as an excuse to cause disorder will be dealt with robustly and those people could find themselves with a banning order or facing a criminal prosecution.

“Our thanks go in advance to those attending the match for a fun and enjoyable day.

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“Our officers will be at the game to help make it a safe event for all.”

T/Supt Richardson added: “Please do approach them and engage with them if you see them.”

Further updates will be on the Cleveland force Facebook and Twitter (X) ,@ClevelandPolice, sites for updates throughout the day.