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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Quinn pays bill for stranded fans
Niall Quinn (courtesy PA)
Niall Quinn stayed until all the fans had boarded the taxis
Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn paid out 8,000 in taxi fares after about 80 fans were left stranded at Bristol Airport when a flight was grounded.

Quinn was on the Easyjet plane when police ejected a group of supporters that the pilot had alleged were drunk.

The Saturday night flight was later cancelled so the chairman booked a fleet of 18 taxis to make the 300 mile trip back to the north-east.

The fans were returning after the club's 1-0 victory over Cardiff City.

Quinn, who used the club's money to pay for the taxis, stayed to make sure everyone was safe before getting in the last taxi, arriving home on Sunday morning.

Quinn made a speech when we came off the plane and you could have heard a pin drop, everybody was in awe of him
Sunderland Fan Steve Dean

He said the airline had over-reacted in cancelling the Newcastle bound flight.

"Myself and members of my staff were on this flight and we vehemently oppose the airline's view that there was disruptive behaviour onboard," he said.

"The mood was humorous and everyone was in good spirits after our fine victory.

"The club was happy to provide transport for the group, which included children, elderly and disabled fans as their safety and well-being was paramount."

'Zero-tolerance'

Witness Steve Dean, 48, secretary of the Jarrow branch of the SAFC Supporters' Association, said Quinn had spoken up for fans when they were being ejected from the plane, before the flight was finally cancelled.

"He told the crew 'These are my people, you cannot treat them like that'.

"He made a speech when we came off the plane and you could have heard a pin drop, everybody was in awe of him."

An Easyjet spokesman said it had a zero-tolerance policy towards any unacceptable behaviour onboard flights.

It had offered passengers not involved in the incident a free transfer onto the next available flight and hotel accommodation.

Avon and Somerset Police said no arrests were made.

Quinn, a former Manchester City and Sunderland striker, donated about 1m from the proceeds of his testimonial match to charity in 2002.

The Irishman became the Wearside club's chairman after heading a consortium which bought out former owner Bob Murray last year.




SEE ALSO
Quinn receives honorary MBE
13 Aug 03 |  Wear
Football star's charity goal
15 May 02 |  England



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