Sheffield Derby Guest Column: ‘The city has to stop looking second-rate’ – Why the decision to limit number of fans into Sheffield Wednesday v Sheffield United derby lets the birthplace of football down

As The Star reported earlier today, the decision to limit the number of fans who can attend Monday’s Steel City Derby between Sheffield Wednesday and United has attracted criticism from both Owls and Blades fans.

Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 15:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th February 2019, 15:33 pm
Sheffield Utd fans celebrate at Hillsborough last season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

One Blade has penned an open letter with his disappointment in the decision ahead of the big game, which will be broadcast around the world on Sky Sports and other broadcasters.

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‘A big football game is something that, nowadays, goes beyond the narrow confines of the stadium in the town or city that it's played in.

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It's on the screens in homes around the country; an emblem of the the teams, the organisation, the supporters and the very town or city itself.

So much can be derived from this: the quality of the teams, the policing, the standing of the game in the locality, and the general standing of the city as a whole all come into sharp focus. In a word, the city's 'appeal'.

Now it has been a subject of intense discussion among those of a red and white and blue and white persuasion, why our city wants to appear as unattractive as possible?

Sheffield Utd fans celebrate at Hillsborough last season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Jokes aside, these fans 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.

On Monday, the Sheffield derby will be at Hillsborough. A large section of the away end will be empty. Wednesday will lose a huge amount of revenue (as United have previously),and the city has to stop looking second rate with empty stands and seats, when there are willing punters unable to sit in them. Sheffield is the home of football; it's we who should be setting the example.

Yours sincerely, Shaun Nicholls, Whiston, Rotherham.’