Sheffield United: ‘It’s an absolute joke’ – Blades fans blast ‘senseless’ decision to restrict number of tickets for Monday’s Sheffield Derby against Sheffield Wednesday
A faction of Sheffield United supporters have questioned the ‘senseless’ decision to restrict the number of tickets available to travelling Blades fans for Monday’s Steel City Derby against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
United will be backed by just under 3,000 fans for the derby on Monday, following Wednesday’s decision to release a further 646 tickets after United’s initial 2,305 allocation sold out.
Like last season, United’s supporters will be housed in the upper tier of the Leppings Lane stand at Hillsborough but, unlike last season when it was opened up to Owls fans, there are currently no plans to sell tickets – to either club – for the lower tier.
The new allocation of 646 tickets is thought to have been made available after netting, at the front of the upper tier, was rendered redundant as no supporters would be housed below.
Now, in front of hundreds of thousands of watching Sky Sports spectators from around the world on Monday, the latest instalment of the Sheffield Derby will be played out in front of a bank of empty seats behind one goal.
Many supporters have expressed disappointment at the decision, pointing out examples of other local derbies where rival fans are seperated by a line of stewards rather than having complete stands made unavailable.
And the decision to allow Leeds United fans both tiers of the Leppings Lane end, around 4,600 tickets, earlier this season also raised eyebrows when compared to the Sheffield Derby.
That game was played on a Friday night, with increased numbers of revellers in the city centre and Hillsborough anyway, and was the first Friday evening trip to Hillsborough for Leeds since the infamous 2012 game, when a fan ran onto the pitch and assaulted Owls goalkeeper Chris Kirkland.
Blades fan Shaun Nicholls asked “Why our city wants to appear as unattractive as possible?
“The game has been the subject of intense discussion between both sets of fans but, jokes aside, they haven't been discussing the quality of the football, but rather the increasingly senseless ticketing arrangement at their sides respective grounds.
“Officious policing, gargantuan amounts of segregation and a multitude of various ticketing restrictions have become the norm at both grounds.
“Steel walls on Bramall Lane for teams United have no history of disorder with; nonsense early or late kick offs for games when United and Wednesday have no previous issues with the opposition supporters.
“The effective stadium capacities at both clubs have been heavily reduced, due to segregation not seen anywhere else in Britain: not for the hate-filled Old Firm derby; the Manchester derby, nor the Merseyside or Midlands derby.
“Yet, routinely, for any 'big' game United or Wednesday play - at home - huge areas of the respective grounds are senselessly segregated and stands are closed, rather than the customary line or two of stewards separating opposition supporters seen throughout the country.”
In an interview with The Star ahead of the last derby at Hillsborough, then-Sheffield District Commander and temporary Chief Superintendent Shaun Morley revealed South Yorkshire Police have no say in the amount of tickets given to fans and how many must be withheld for segregation purposes.
Another Blade Oliver Castledine, who lives near Hillsborough, added: “This SAG business is an absolute joke.
“There are derbies up and down the country with barely any segregation, yet the Sheffield derby has to have a whole lower tier of a stand empty.
“I can fully understand the odd bit of netting. But leaving the lower tier is a bit excessive. Given when Leeds visit there's no issue, desipte the history with the goalkeeper.”
Wednesday have been approached for comment along with the local Safety Advisory Group, who help advise on planning large events and encourage cooperation between various bodies.