Sir Alex Ferguson has slammed the Glasgow Rangers fans that rioted through the streets of Manchester at the UEFA Cup Final in 2008, describing their behaviour as “appalling.”
With Rangers supporters in town for the opening Champions League Group C game against Manchester United at Old Trafford, Ferguson has spoken out against the section of Rangers fans who took to the streets of Manchester after one of the big screens scheduled to show the game in the city centre broke down.
During the rioting, as well as damage to property, 15 policemen were injured, 39 fans were arrested and ambulance crews attended to 52 cases of assault.
In the aftermath, 13 people were charged with violent disorder. Manchester Crown Court Judge Andrew Blake condemned what he described as "the worst night of violence and destruction suffered by Manchester city centre since the blitz" and even former Prime Minister Gordon Brown weighed in, calling the riots “completely unacceptable” and those involved “a disgrace.”
Now Ferguson has spoken out against the behaviour of Rangers fans involved, ahead of a full-scale security operation intended to prevent any re-occurrence of such unsavoury scenes.
"We in Manchester have good cause to remember the UEFA Cup final, of course, because it was played in Manchester at Eastlands in a match that pained me as some of the visiting supporters of the Scottish side ran amok in the city centre," said Ferguson.
"It was a good idea to have screens showing the match live, but hardly helpful when, for whatever reason, the relay failed," added the United boss.
"It's no excuse for the appalling behaviour of a certain section of fans, but it must have been mightily frustrating for everyone.”
Ferguson now hopes the security measures put in place by Greater Manchester and Strathclyde police will lead to a game free from trouble.
Travelling Rangers supporters will be heavily monitored ahead of the fixture at Old Trafford.
Rangers fans who are eligible for a ticket will be escorted to Wigan’s DW Stadium in specially arranged buses, where they will congregate for “catering and rest facilities.”
Fans will then be shuttled from Wigan to Manchester for the match, and will only receive their tickets on that 16-mile journey to Old Trafford.
And Ferguson is optimistic that such arrangements will have the desired effect.
"All I can say is that I have every confidence that we can stage a trouble-free game,” said Ferguson.
“We have worked hard on the security aspect and feel the plan to take the visiting supporters to the Wigan ground for ticket distribution before bringing them to Old Trafford by bus should help.”
United start their Champions League campaign looking for a win, after a disappointing 3-3 draw against Everton that saw the Red Devils throw away a two-goal lead with only minutes remaining.
By Jonathan Fadugbacomments