Prominent Sunderland movement 'disbands' after Newcastle United derby day debacle

Sunderland fans build the atmosphere in the crowd ahead of the English FA Cup third round football match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland in north east England on January 6, 2024. Sunderland fans build the atmosphere in the crowd ahead of the English FA Cup third round football match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland in north east England on January 6, 2024.
Sunderland fans build the atmosphere in the crowd ahead of the English FA Cup third round football match between Sunderland and Newcastle United at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland in north east England on January 6, 2024. | AFP via Getty Images
Sunderland AFC fan group closes down after Newcastle United display criticism.

Newcastle United, of course, ended a nine-game winless run in the Tyne-Wear derby at the weekend, but it appears that wasn't the only thing shut down at the Stadium of Light.

Following on from an on-field humbling, after a week off off-field embarrassments, the latest Sunderland casualty looks to be organisers of the matchday flag display, Spirit of 37.

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The fan group raised around £17,000 to put on a display for Saturday's 3-0 Newcastle win on Wearside. A large chunk of that cash raised - £10,000 - was paid for by Sunderland majority shareholder Kyril Louis-Dreyfus.

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Their fundraiser was dogged by controversy, with Black Cats fans taking aim at the group for their supposed lack of accountability about how the money would be spent.

The display itself, which involved some silver and red foils and a crafted 'Wearside' across a full stand drew criticism from both sides of the Tyne-Wear divide. During the big reveal, the 6,000 Geordies at the ground chanted: "What the f-----g hell is that?".

Some Black Cats supporters also showed expressed anger at the expensively put together display, particularly on social media. And that backlash appears to have brought an end to the movement, who were set up to mimic the displays created by popular fan groups across the country, including those of rival Newcastle United group, Wor Flags.

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On Tuesday, the group closed down their social media channel.

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Fans taking to X, formerly known as Twitter, looking for Spirit of 37 updates could no longer interact with the group.

No explanation has been given as to why the group appears to have been disbanded.

Derby delight for United - R4 opponents revealed

Newcastle United emerged victorious on Saturday to claim their first derby day win since August 2011.

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Having not won in their last nine games against the Black Cats, an Alexander Isak double, plus an own goal, saw the Magpies progress to round four of the FA Cup.

Eddie Howe's men will now play Fulham at Craven Cottage for a spot in round five.

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