Margaret Byrne

Chief executive: Safety a priority


Margaret Byrne on persistent standing issue.

Sunderland’s chief executive Margaret Byrne has spoken about the issue of persistent standing and how the club is doing all it can to ensure that its supporters can enjoy matchdays at the Stadium of Light in safety and comfort.

Margaret Byrne said: “It’s certainly not our aim to alienate any supporter at the Stadium of Light and certain sections of the media have shown a clear lack of understanding of the law in their reporting of the matter.  

“The tragedy at Hillsborough, which led to the loss of the lives of 96 football fans, galvanised a change in football legislation through the implementation of the findings of the Taylor Report. Persistent standing in all-seater stadia is simply not allowed – this isn’t a Sunderland Football Club rule, it’s a legal obligation that all clubs have to adhere to in the interests of the safety of all supporters, which is always our primary concern.

Margaret went on to say that the club is certainly not trying to stifle the passion of its fans. “Football is all about passion and emotion and we are in no way trying to quell that," she added.

“We know that fans stand to celebrate and sing and that’s fantastic - a vibrant, lively, and passionate atmosphere is what everyone wants to see at the Stadium of Light, but what we are trying to eradicate here is people who stand for the entire duration of the game. Sustained standing throughout the game not only compromises their own safety and that of those around them, but also spoils the enjoyment of their fellow supporters.”

As well as ensuring that the Stadium of Light is a safe environment for all fans, Sunderland is committed to ensuring everyone can enjoy the matchday atmosphere. “We have had to relocate over 200 fans from the south stand this season, including elderly and disabled supporters, who have complained that their view and enjoyment of games was being severely compromised by those who choose to stand throughout the 90 minutes," Margaret said.

“We are trying to be fair to everyone and would ask fans to consider their fellow supporters too.”