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Guilty until proven innocent – Sunderland fans face ban

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

We’ve heard from a number of Sunderland fans today who’ve been told by the club that they’re receiving bans following the now infamous Central Station incident. In brief, four fans were hospitalised and many more injured (no police were hurt) as supporters returning from their club’s pre-season tie with Hearts were met by Northumbria Police. You can read more on the campaign around Sunderland fans at Central Station here.

If the club has written to you email the FSF or call 08702 777 777 – we’ll even call you back if you’re low on credit!

Not one person has yet been charged with any crime yet Sunderland AFC seem very keen to ban supporters – guilty until proven innocent, it seems.

We contacted Sunderland today and asked them on what grounds these bans have been made and for how long they will last. They confirmed the decision was taken by their ‘executive’ and told us that ‘the suspension of season cards will continue until the result of the investigation and/or trial is known.’

Aside from our serious concerns over Northumbria Police’s handling of the original incident we also believe people are innocent until proven guilty. Sadly we seem to be in an ever dwindling minority there.

Sunderland’s position hasn’t gone down at all well among the club’s support and we’d appeal that they reverse this decision until fans have the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law, if it ever gets that far.

If the police decide no further action is necessary, or people are found not guilty in a court of law, we expect any bans to be overturned and supporters fully compensated for missed games.

Sunderland are not alone in banning supporters without even giving them the courtesy of defending themselves, it’s a worryingly common trend, but the FSF will do our best to advise fans of their rights when this does happen.

The FSF is absolutely opposed to violence, whether it’s from fans or police, there is no excuse for it and if fans are found guilty they must face the consequences.

But at this minute in time not one person has been charged, let alone convicted, and bans are totally unjustified.


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