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Fair Cop?

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Fair Cop? was established by the FSF’s Northeast Division following numerous complaints from the region’s football fans over policing and stewarding at matches, particularly derby matches and matches which involved teams with a large away following.

As an initial campaign the newly-formed FSF Northeast Division, formed at the beginning of 2008, has worked closely with North East football clubs as well as the police forces of Northumbria and Cleveland to discuss this issue and work together in a positive manner.

This process was formalised by developing the Fair Cop? and surveying supporters via a flyer containing text and email lines. The Sunderland v Middlesbrough match (September 20th, 2008) and Sunderland v Newcastle United match (October 25th, 2008) were the first two derbies to appear on the fixture list for the 2008/09 season and almost 10,000 flyers were given out by the Northeast Division’s volunteers.

These flyers were handed out to many home supporters entering the Stadium of Light and in the pubs and clubs in the centre of Sunderland. Away supporters received flyers via their clubs buses which took the majority of away fans to the match.

The flyers were well received by supporters and the clubs felt that the opportunity to give feedback was innovative and a positive action. After collating the responses we have sought to feed supporters’ comments on the policing and stewarding of these matches to Sunderland AFC and representatives from Northumbria Police.

Following disorder at the Sunderland v Newcastle United match Fair Cop? left the FSF’s Northeast Division in the unique position of having more than 10,000 words of constructive feedback on the day’s events. This allowed the FSF Northeast to make a number of recommendations as there were clearly many issues where a broad consensus emerged between Newcastle and Sunderland supporters.

The FSF Northeast Division’s recommendations to address these issues have been passed on to both Sunderland AFC and Northumbria Police.  In addition, the report has been shared with the Football Association, Football Licensing Authority and local Safety Advisory Group.

If you would like to hear more about Fair Cop? or want to get involved with the FSF Northeast email campaigns’ coordinator Scott Bentley

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Funding partners

  • The Football Association
  • Premier Leage Fans Fund


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  • Co-operatives UK
  • FSE
  • Kick It Out
  • Level Playing Field
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Pledgeball