Manchester City Expressed 'Serious Concerns' to Police over Liverpool Fan Plan

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 20, 2018

Liverpool's supporters burn a flare as they celebrate Liverpool after  Liverpool opened the score  during the UEFA Europa League final football match between Liverpool FC and Sevilla FC at the St Jakob-Park stadium in Basel, on May 18, 2016.   AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP / FABRICE COFFRINI        (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Manchester City have expressed "serious concerns" to the police regarding a hostile reception of their team bus planned by Liverpool supporters ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash, with authorities warning prison sentences could be handed out to fans using pyrotechnics.

Liverpool fan channel The Redmen TV shared a poster advertising the "coach greeting" on Twitter, with supporters invited to provide a hostile atmosphere for the Sky Blues ahead of the two club's quarter-final first leg on April 4:

The Daily Mail's Mike Keegan reported City have been alarmed by the prospect and intended to raise their concerns with the authorities in Liverpool and Greater Manchester.

The invitation instructs fans to "Bring your flares and flags. Banners and bangers. Pints and Pyro. There will be thousands of scouse voices ready to scare 'em back to Mancland with their tails between their legs before the match even starts."

Keegan later added that City have made their concerns known, resulting in a statement from Superintendent Paul White of Merseyside Police, who said they are aware of the plan. He added:

"While recognising that some supporters feel they can add to the atmosphere of the occasion, the use of flares and other pyrotechnics at and around football matches is a concern. We fully support the club in working to eradicate this dangerous and reckless practice and would ask that supporters work with us.

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"The police and courts take these offences very seriously and prosecution can result in a prison sentence. I would remind people that this can apply not only within the stadium, but also in the surrounding streets and when attempting to enter the ground."

The Sky Blues received a similar reception during their visit to Anfield in 2014—when the two sides were going head-to-head in the Premier League title race—and a minibus carrying City supporters was "pelted with bottles and rocks."

City are also worried any hostility could lead to similar retaliatory scenes ahead of the second leg a week later.

Football writer Joel Rabinowitz defended the planned reception:

The Anfield faithful are known for generating plenty of atmosphere ahead of important matches, particularly on the European stage.

In 2016, supporters greeted Villarreal's team bus with flares when they arrived at Anfield with a 1-0 lead in the UEFA Europa League semi-final. Liverpool progressed to the final with a comfortable 3-0 win.

Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News believes at least some of City's players aren't likely to be affected by a similar display:

With the second leg taking place at the Etihad Stadium, it's vital the Reds get the tie off to a good start and take a positive result with them to Manchester.

Liverpool beat City 4-3 at Anfield in January. Giving up three away goals this time around would be something of a disaster in the two-legged affair, but Liverpool have every reason to be optimistic heading into the tie.