Day of action leads to arrests after Sunderland versus Celtic match-day disorder

Police have now arrested 31 people alleged to have being involved in violence at Sunderland’s pre-season friendly against Celtic – with more yet to come.

Officers visited numerous addresses across Wearside this morning to inform people that they are wanted for questioning, saying they are “working relentlessly” to identify those responsible.

Police at an address in Sunderland earlier on Wednesday.

Police at an address in Sunderland earlier on Wednesday.

Inquiries today led to more arrests on top of the 24 made on the day of the match, with officers warning further arrests will be made.

Violence flared on Saturday, July 29, when the Black Cats played the Scottish champions at the Stadium of Light to mark 20 years since the ground was opened.

About 8,000 Celtic supporters converged on Wearside for the game, which was also used to celebrate the Hoops’ 1967 European Cup win.

But the event was soured with violence breaking out in North Bridge Street, close to the stadium, and in Hendon.

Prior to kick off on the day a handful of Sunderland and Celtic fans were involved in disorder and 24 people were arrested on the day.

Hours after the game finished, Northumbria Police were forced to use their Facebook page to deny rumours that someone had died.

A number of people have since been dealt with by the courts for their part in the violence.

Today’s arrests are as a result of Operation Hest – conducted by Southern Area Command CID and launched to identify and apprehend those involved in causing the trouble.

Officers called at the homes of those alleged of being involved, with those not present left a letter asking them to contact police.

Sunderland chief inspector Mark Hall said: “Most of the fans who came along were, as we expected they would be, good natured.

“Many came with children and enjoyed a high spirited afternoon of football.

“We’re incredibly proud of our city, it’s a great place with plenty to offer and it was very disappointing to see a small handful tarnish it with their disruptive and violent behaviour.

“It’s not acceptable and we won’t tolerate it.

“Our local communities and local residents should not have to put up with this sort of disruption on their doorstep.”

Chief Inspector Hall added: “Since the disorder we have been working relentlessly to identify those involved.

“I hope our communities feel reassured by the action we have taken.

“Today’s activity should also be a warning to other people involved that we will find out who they are, vigorously pursue them and bring them to justice.”