As the match commander for the forthcoming Manchester United v Everton fixture this Sunday, I would like to offer a welcome to all fans attending the game.
The aim is to ensure that everyone enjoys the match and the day passes off safely. Recent league fixtures at Old Trafford between United and Everton have passed off relatively well. However the presence of pyrotechnic smoke bombs during the last fixture in December 2013 did spoil the fixture for many people and it is something we wish to prevent for future fixtures. I am again working very closely with the safety and security teams at Manchester United Football Club and I hope that the game on Sunday can also take place in a safe and enjoyable manner for all concerned.
Many issues experienced by fans can be overcome by effective communication and in order to build upon good relations from previous seasons, I have already met fan representatives from both clubs to talk through some aspects of the policing operation on Sunday. One point that was raised was whether the police had any involvement in relation to the re-scheduling of this fixture from the Saturday to a midday kick-off on the Sunday. I can confirm that the re-scheduling was due to TV broadcasting arrangements and not as a result of a request from the police.
In terms of key messages, I would like all the visiting Everton fans to be aware of the following points:-
1. You cannot drink alcohol on the street in Manchester city centre or Trafford (the borough where the ground is located) and this will be enforced around the stadium for home and away fans. Since implementing this policy it has stopped groups of supporters congregating at certain locations which previously created a hostile atmosphere for visiting fans and families.
2. There are no pubs in the area of the ground which cater for visiting supporters.
3. Everton fans will be able to get a drink in the ground – a maximum of two alcoholic drinks per visit to bar per person – it is the same policy for home fans in the East Stand. Turnstiles open at 10.00 am and fans will be able to buy food and drink.
4. All drinks (including soft drinks) will be decanted and these arrangements are the same for home fans situated near to the segregation line.
5. I would like to remind all supporters that pyrotechnics are dangerous and are not welcome by the majority of fans. It is an offence to enter a stadium with such an item and those engaging in this behaviour risk arrest, prosecution and also a banning order. The Police and Manchester United Football Club will be taking a wide range of measures to prevent and address any such issues on the day.
6. At this point in time, there is no intention to implement a hold back of Everton fans at the end of the game. However, such decisions can change due to events that my take place on the day – all fans will be updated about this during the game by public address announcements in the stadium if there is a change to the initial decision. If this occurs, we will minimise the duration of this as far as we can. During any holdback, the police will work closely with the stewards, and we will do our best to ensure that fans can access toilet facilities during any holdback. This will need to be done in a controlled manner to help regulate the numbers accessing the toilets at any one time.
I trust this information has been useful and I hope that supporters from both sides act in a responsible manner and enjoy the game, no matter what the result.
Superintendent James Liggett.