Police investigate racist abuse
Police have begun an investigation into an allegation of racist abuse at Sunday's derby between Sunderland and Newcastle.
Northumbria Police said there were 15 arrests from a crowd of almost 50,000 and praised the majority for their behaviour.
The force said there were "very few" incidents during the 1-1 draw inside the stadium, though Sunderland fans were heard to sing they wished Newcastle United's Steven Taylor was dead. The player had been outspoken in the build-up about the rivalry between the two clubs.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "There was one report of racist language having been used by a supporter in one area of the stadium - enquiries into this report are ongoing."
Chief Supt Steve Neill said: "The vast majority of fans were well behaved today and enjoyed the Wear Tyne derby for the great occasion that it is.
"15 arrests out of crowd of that size is very low.
"I'm pleased that the vast majority of fans who attended today were clearly there to enjoy the football and were not interested in causing trouble.
"I'd like to praise supporters from both clubs - they worked well with officers on the ground, were extremely patient and good natured and enjoyed the day in the best sprit."
Police said six of the 15 arrests were made at 5am in a pre-planned operation and they were held on suspicion of drugs offences.
Taylor, who had infuriated the Wearsiders with comments on Saturday including a suggestion that no Sunderland player would get into the Newcastle team, was targeted from the warm-up to the end of a tight encounter despite only playing the last 10 minutes as a substitute, and on at least two occasions, smiled at and applauded the home crowd.
However, there were repeated chants of, 'Steven Taylor, we wish you were dead' among other unsavoury offerings from both sets of fans, one from the away end referring to Jimmy Savile, and although both Sunderland boss Martin O'Neill and Magpies counterpart Alan Pardew insisted they had not heard them, the Ulsterman voiced his disappointment.
He said: "I didn't know that. That would be poor, in very poor taste, if that's the case.
"I would be disappointed to have heard that."
Taylor, who was born in Greenwich, but raised on Tyneside, has been a target for Sunderland fans since winning the penalty from which Shola Ameobi snatched a 1-1 draw at St James' Park in February 2009 after going down all too easily when challenged by Steed Malbranque.
O'Neill revealed he had not referred to the 26-year-old's pre-match comments in his team talk, but admitted his players were well aware of what had been said.
He said: "It didn't figure in my team talk, but some of the players had passed comment about it.
"He's absolutely entitled to his opinion. I am delighted he made their bench."