Newcastle to pay tribute to fans on board MH17
Newcastle United will pay tribute to two of the club's fans who were aboard the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Diehard Magpies supporters John Alder and Liam Sweeney were on their way to New Zealand for the club's pre-season tour when their passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 295 people on board.
Upon learning of their demise, the north-east club released a statement, which said: "It is with great sadness that we learn today the tragic news of the deaths of John Alder and Liam Sweeney, two of the Club's most loyal supporters, who lost their lives on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 which crashed on Thursday afternoon in Eastern Ukraine.
"John was a lifelong supporter and a familiar sight in the stands for almost half-a-century, having barely missed a single game in that time.
"Liam will be known to many fans during his time volunteering as a steward on supporters' buses to away games."
Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley confirmed arrangements were being made to pay tribute to the two men at the club's first match of the new English Premier League season against Manchester City on Aug 17 and that the area surrounding the statue of Sir Bobby Robson outside St James' Park will be dedicated for fellow fans to pay their respects.
Manager Alan Pardew said: "Myself and all the players are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news.
"We all knew how passionately John and Liam supported the team and the Club. They were with us just earlier this week for our first pre-season friendly against Oldham and their dedication to travel all the way around the world to support us in New Zealand tells you all you need to know about the passion they had for Newcastle United.
"Our hearts go out to their families and friends."
Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul took to Twitter and posted his condolences:
MH17 was on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur before it was shot down from a height of 10km above Ukraine near the Russian border.
None of the 280 passengers and 15 on board survived the crash.
Source: Newcastle United official website