Stadium of Light: Sunderland to close the upper tier from the 2018-19 season

Sunderland's Stadium of Light
Sunderland's attendances at the Stadium of Light remain high for the division but almost half of capacity

Sunderland will close the Stadium of Light's upper concourse to home fans from next season, to save on staffing costs and 'improve match atmosphere'.

The decision was prompted by a drop in attendances to an average of 27,692 per game in a 49,000-seat stadium.

About 1,500 season ticket holders are affected, and have been sent a letter offering different seats at the same price for the next three seasons.

Away supporters will remain in the upper tier of the stadium.

Corporate hospitality and the directors box will also continue to be seated in that part of the ground.

The letter says: "The decision has now been taken to close the Premier Concourse at the end of this season to both season card holders and match sales, unless demand dictates that additional capacity is required.

"We believe that closing the Premier Concourse will help us to improve match atmosphere, whilst also reducing the costs associated with safety stewards and kiosk staff in the area."

Although attendances are down, Sunderland's average is the fourth best in the Championship - but their form this season means the club could be in League One next season.

If relegated, it would be the first time in 30 years the club had dropped as low as the third tier.

Several clubs have opted to shut sections of the ground in the past, including Cardiff City and Leeds United.