Police say Manchester United v Liverpool atmosphere safest in 10 years
By Joe Tanner
Last Updated: 14/03/19 5:45pm
Police say that meetings with fan groups prior to Manchester United's game with Liverpool helped create the fixture's "safest atmosphere in 10 years".
Greater Manchester Police match commanding officer Collette Rose wrote a thank you letter to the away supporters who attended the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford praising fans for their behaviour; as just one individual was arrested by the force at the game.
Rose said: "We wanted an open and honest conversation about what fans thought of security.
"We invited Liverpool and Manchester United fan groups for a frank conversation about previous experiences of this fixture and what they thought could be done to improve safety at games.
"One of our dedicated football officers said it was the safest atmosphere at Old Trafford he's known in ten years of working there. We are building on this, and it's important to get constant feedback."
In her message to Liverpool supporters, Rose also praised the "patience and understanding" for the hold-back 20 minutes after the final whistle.
The force also agreed to examine traffic issues for away fans at future derby matches.
1. This is a letter that @gmpolice sent to supporters and others who worked alongside them and @MerseyPolice ahead of the recent fixture between Man United and Liverpool. The tone and content captures both the collaborative approach & their respect for supporters. pic.twitter.com/bch7fFdfKg— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) March 12, 2019
Rose continued: "Our engagement with the fans on match days doesn't reach a wide proportion of people, so this contact with fan groups beforehand is really important, and means we can reach a far greater number of supporters."
Pitch invasions and fan disorder have featured in some Premier League and EFL games recently.
Rose believes fans have a responsibility to call out poor fan behaviour after a Birmingham City supporter was jailed for punching Jack Grealish in the head, whilst a fan invaded the pitch in Arsenal's game with Manchester United last weekend.
"I think what we've seen is a couple of high-profile incidents; as society, police, and football clubs, we need to make sure we label all of it as unacceptable behaviour.
"There will always be people in society who want to take advantage of certain situations and let everybody else down. Fans have a responsibility to call out this behaviour, it's how we react to it that matters."