Another leading Manchester United fans’ group has urged Red Devils supporters not to repeat their anti-Liverpool chants at Anfield on Sunday.
The match between the great north-west rivals is always one of the most high-octane encounters of the domestic calendar and it is feared the recent publication of the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s findings into the 1989 stadium disaster which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters could be a catalyst for abusive chants to be sung by some United supporters.
The panel cleared Liverpool fans of any wrongdoing prior to and during the FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough 23 years ago.
Worries about the reaction of United fans at Anfield were exacerbated by some of the songs that were heard at Old Trafford last weekend which, whilst not referring directly to Hillsborough, clearly have the potential to inflame a volatile situation.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has already appealed for calm, as has the Manchester United Supporters Trust.
Now the popular Stretford End Flags group has followed suit.
“During Sunday’s visit, Liverpool FC will be paying respect to the 96 victims of the 1989 Hillsborough tragedy, following the release of new evidence last week,” said a statement on their website stretfordendflags.com.
“Stretford End Flags support Sir Alex Ferguson’s calls for Manchester United supporters to respect this occasion and to further refrain from indulging in the type of chants that have been highlighted by the media over the last week.
“We are led to believe that both Liverpool FC’s own stewards and local police will be monitoring the behaviour of both clubs’ supporters and anyone participating in chants of a derogatory nature run the risk of both ejection and banning from other games.”
Should United fans heed the call, it would undoubtedly be a major benefit in the campaign to secure increased ticket allocations for matches at Liverpool. Ticket numbers have been cut in recent seasons due to persistent standing.
And whilst, in percentage terms, the figure is going back up, United are still not receiving their full allocation.
“Last season, as a result of previous persistent standing in the aisles, Liverpool City Council reduced United’s away ticket allocation by over 1,000 tickets,” said SEF.
“Whilst the allocation was increased for our FA Cup visit, it was still below the maximum allowed allocation.
“For this season’s visit, supporters’ groups have worked towards having a return to the full allocation and as a result, Liverpool City Council have increased the allocation, although once again it is still short of the maximum allowed.
“Supporters are asked to co-operate with stewards and police requests on the day, to ensure that these areas remain clear. Any standing in the aisles could result in further reductions in our allocation, not just at Anfield, but also for future visits to Goodison Park.”