As an avid football fan, and a football commentator for a hospital radio station, I completely understand the intense rivalry between local football clubs.
Therefore, as an ambassador of this region, it fills me with pride that fans from both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC have met together at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle recently, in an attempt to look at ways for fans to keep the passion, but lose the hate, between the two clubs.
Those who participate in endless bouts of violence before, during and after games, who know full well they run the risk of being banned from the stadium in future games, are thugs, not fans.
These people not only affect other fans at games, but often their local communities too.
Football has moved on since the dark days of frequent outbursts of violence and hate on the terraces, let’s work together, and push forward for a safer environment for all.
Jonathan Arnott MEP
UKIP, North East