Sunderland have apologised to fans for a “serious error in judgement” after decorating a hospitality bar at the Stadium of Light in the colours of rivals Newcastle United ahead of Saturday’s Wear-Tyne derby.

Photos emerged on social media on Thursday of Sunderland’s Black Cats Bar decked out in black and white and bearing Newcastle the slogans “Keep the black and white flag flying high”, “We are United” and “Howay the lads”.

The club confirmed these have been removed and the space returned to its original state, and have vowed to conduct a review to “determine how this process unfolded”.

The bar is set to host Newcastle’s corporate guests for Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie between the pair.

A Sunderland statement read: “Sunderland AFC acknowledges that a serious error in judgement was made in relation to Black Cats Bar earlier this afternoon.

“We apologise to our fans for the understandable concern they have fairly voiced in response and this sentiment is shared by the club’s ownership group and board of directors, who have requested an immediate review is undertaken to determine how this process unfolded.

“A direct decision has also been taken by the ownership group and board of directors to return the space to its original state and we once again apologise to our supporters that this was not addressed sooner.”

It is understood the hospitality seats in the Black Cat Bar for Newcastle supporters are priced at £600 ($761) per ticket.

6,000 Newcastle fans are set to make the trip to the Stadium of Light for the FA Cup fixture, marking their first away fixture at Sunderland since 2015. The allocation was agreed after discussions with Northumbria Police, with all visiting fans required to travel on official coaches and tickets distributed upon arrival at the Stadium of Light.

The two sides have not met since a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park in March 2016.

Newcastle were relegated to the Championship that season, and while they bounced back the Premier League at the first time of asking, Sunderland then dropped into the second tier in 2017-18 and have been absent from the top flight ever since.

The fixture also marks the first FA Cup meeting between the pair since 1956.



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(Photo: Charlotte Tattersall – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)