Newcastle to hold a minute's silence in memory of two supporters killed on flight MH17

Newcastle will pay tribute to two supporters killed on flight MH17. Photo: PA

There will be a minute's silence ahead of Newcastle's first Premier League game this season in honour of two fans who died on board flight MH17.

John Alder, 63, and Liam Sweeney, 28, were on the Malaysia Airlines flight to watch their heroes play two friendly games in New Zealand.

Tributes will be paid on Sunday August 17 at St James' Park before their match against Manchester City.

Captains Fabricio Coloccini and Vincent Kompany will lay wreaths at the centre circle before kick-off, accompanied by representatives from John and Liam's families.

Sunderland, whose fans showed their empathy with Newcastle despite their local rivalry by raising £33,000 for local good causes in memory of the men, will be represented by their ex-player Jimmy Montgomery.

A minute's silence will then be observed once both teams have entered the field.

The club will create a memorial garden and a community award in their memory as well.

Manchester City supporters will unveil a banner paying tribute to the two Newcastle fans.

MH17
Floral tributes for victims at Schiphol airport. Credit: PA

Newcastle's managing director Lee Charnley said: "Our thoughts and our primary concern since the tragic events of 17th July have been focused on supporting the families of John and Liam in any way we can, and paying tribute to the two men in an appropriate and respectful way to reflect the sorrow felt not just from our supporters, staff, management and players but from the football community as a whole.

"We have received so many messages of condolence from across the football family and the compassion expressed by supporters of all allegiances has been very touching.

"We all understand that our supporters travel significant distances and make many sacrifices to support their respective teams, and the fact John and Liam lost their lives in the course of travelling across the world to support their team is something felt by everyone.

"What has been particularly heartening has been the tremendous support shown by the staff and supporters of Sunderland. I would like to pay particular thanks and respect to Gary Ferguson whose incredible fundraising efforts have to date raised £33,000 for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle, at the request of both families.

"Whilst the will to win and competitive tension between our two clubs will of course remain, I am sure the actions of Gary and the many other Sunderland supporters who donated to this fantastic fundraising effort, together with Sunderland AFC who have also been in constant contact with messages of support, has created a new level of respect between our supporters which I am sure will be reflected when the teams meet in the future.

"The North East is an amazing place and the sentiments and actions since this tragedy have shown that in times of difficulty the region comes together as one - black and white or red and white."