Police have warned fans ahead of the Manchester derby that disorder of any kind around the match will not be tolerated.
As supporters across the city get ready for Sunday afternoon’s hotly-anticipated clash between arch-rivals Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium police have been working on a plan to ensure the game is trouble-free.
There has been a concerning rise in disorder at football matches in recent times, with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) saying they have already made 32 arrests on matchdays in the opening weeks of the new season.
They have warned that a tough stance will be taken against anyone who seeks to cause trouble at the derby.
What have the police said about the derby and potential disorder?
Superintendent Dave Pester, who is the match commander for Sunday, said: “The Manchester derby is a huge fixture for all football fans in Manchester. It is going to be screened nationally and internationally and passions will be running high.
“The majority of supporters will be intent on enjoying the occasion but unfortunately, as we have seen over the last 12 months, the minority have been intent on committing criminal offences and disorder.
“GMP has been working in partnership with Manchester City in planning for the derby and we have got a plan which will deliver a safe evnt for everybody.
“Any individuals who commit any offences, whether that is carrying pyrotechnics or invading the pitch, will be arrested and will be dealt with. We will be applying for football banning orders and that is on top of the clubs imposing their own sanctions.
“We will take a very, very robust stance. We are determined to make football as safe as possible for everybody: the supporters, players, stewards and security and our police officers.”
Supt Pester said the response to disorder at Manchester City’s final game against Aston Villa at the Etihad last season showed that police would not just act on matchdays but would go through CCTV footage after matches to identify those responsible for trouble and bring them to justice.
The police also warned that the game on Sunday is a sell-out with no tickets for sale and said that fans should not under any circumstances head to the stadium if they have not got a seat already.
Supt Pester said: “If you have not got a genuine ticket do not attend the stadium. At the last derby in March we had about 40 individuals who bought counterfeit tickets from criminals in the vicinity of the stadium.
“It’s a sell-out, there are no spare tickets. I am almost certain any tickets bought on the street will not be counterfeit and will not allow the buyer into the stadium. It will be a waste of money.”
Authorities are working to crack down on disorder
Statistics have painted a concerning picture of a rise in football-related disorder and incidents since fans returned to the stadiums after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Supt Pester said the force has already made 32 matchday arrests this season, though GMP also said that since the end of July it has helped to police more than 80 men’s football matches at Greater Manchester’s six league clubs and the majority have passed without incident.
The force says it has been taking a tougher stance on offences including assault, criminal damage, throwing missiles, possession of pyrotechnics such as flares and hate-related public order.
Suspects arrested at games risk having a football banning order imposed on them by the courts that can last as long as 10 years and could involve immediate imprisonment, police have warned. In the last 12 months, 41 people have been banned from attending games after incidents involving Greater Manchester teams.
GMP says there will be a visible police presence inside and outside the stadium and in Manchester city centre on Sunday and urged anyone who had any concerns about safety or supporter behaviour to speak to officers.