SUNDERLAND won't be relocating away fans at the Stadium of Light - and hope to introduce safe standing in two areas of the ground.

The Black Cats have decided against moving away supporters after the successful implementation of a number of safety measures that have helped in fighting issues that arose earlier this season.

After an extensive consultation, which included meeting with local authorities and fans, it's been decided that the North Stand Upper at the Stadium of Light remains the most suitable location for away supporters.

Sunderland had considered moving away fans to the lower bowl after missiles were thrown from the top tier during games earlier this season.

Burnley offered their "sincere apologies" after Sunderland's October game against the Clarets had to be briefly halted because of missiles being thrown from the top tier. On that occasion, an eight-year-old was injured.

But Sunderland say the introduction of safety measures, including banning vapes and coins in the away end, has had a positive impact and led to the decision to keep away fans where they are.

A club statement says:"The club has conducted an extensive review to identify the most suitable long-term location for away fans, during which it frequently consulted with local authorities in addition to meeting with the Supporters’ Collective on several occasions.

"All parties unanimously agreed throughout the process that the safety of all supporters attending fixtures at the Stadium of Light is of paramount importance and this was ultimately the determining factor behind the decision taken.

"The ongoing implementation of enhanced safety measures in the North Stand Upper, including an increased stewarding capacity complimented by enhanced training, an upgraded stadium CCTV network and enhanced lighting system, and the banning of items such as coins and vapes, was also considered.

"These measures have had an extremely positive impact on away supporter conduct and dramatically reduced the incident rate to ensure it is now in line with other areas of the stadium.

"The installation of a protective netting was also explored and several UK and overseas options were evaluated, but following the implementation of the measures above, it was determined that they would not further reduce the risk of missiles due to the items commonly used.

"The review also considered a range of other implications alongside supporter safety, including stadium strategy, atmosphere and potential disruption to home fans should the stadium configuration change. Full consideration was also given to the likely changes in ingress and egress once the new bridge and Sheepfolds development are completed.

"The club recognises that unacceptable conduct by a small minority of home and away fans is fundamentally a society-wide behavioural issue and we have made recommendations to the EFL to pursue further research to address the root causes."


Meanwhile, Sunderland have also revealed plans to introduce rail seating in two areas of the ground.

"We are also in regular dialogue with the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, who are currently assessing a proposal from the club to introduce railed seating in the Roker End and North Stand Upper ahead of the 2024-2025 Season to address persistent standing," said the Black Cats in a statement.

"The club appreciates that any discussions relating to changes to the stadium and matchday experience could result in understandable concern and we thank all fans for their patience and support throughout the review period."