Kevin Phillips believes St James' Park will be a vastly different setting for away side this season as thousands of season tickets remain unsold.

One look at the NUFC website shows thousands of season tickets are still available while other clubs in the division have sold out their allocations.

The Black Cats legend told Football Insider that he was shocked they were still on sale and didn't blame fans for staying away.

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The takeover on Tyneside has dominated the headlines this summer and the court case between the Magpies and the Premier League is set to rumble on into next year, resulting in many fans snubbing their season tickets.

Phillips said: "They are so frustrated. It’s almost a protest, or maybe that’s exactly what it is but it’s easy to understand their position.

“Having lived in the North East I know the fans up there are fanatics. I’m shocked it sounds like they have only sold a few.

“I’ve heard that from Sunderland fans so many times, ‘we’re not coming back’.

“It’s as simple as that, maybe it’s the final straw now and fans thinking that not going is the only way they can hurt the club.

“I saw Villa have sold theirs out so look at them, a club showing ambition and making good signings.

“Newcastle haven’t signed anyone yet, other than blind loyalty, why would you go back?

“One thing is for sure, St James’ Park won’t be anywhere near as scary for away sides.”