IMUSA - Independent Manchester United Supporters Association

Behind the windows of Manchester there is an insane love of football, of celebration

- Eric Cantona

IMUSA news

The return of football hooliganism

or just more inaccurate stereotyping of football fans that is not backed up by the evidence?

An article in today's MEN carries the headline "The return of the football hooligan at Manchester United and City games" followed by "As new figures are set to show a rise in football-related violence, Mike Keegan reveals a catalogue of trouble at City and United games across the country"

The case is then made with reference to a list of incidents that show from a United perspective exactly the opposite of what is proclaimed in the headline;

"United supporters were praised for their behaviour at Anfield last September. Merseyside Police described the travelling contingent as ‘well-behaved’."

"A group of Reds were asked to leave a pub in Stoke after home fans started chanting about the 1958 [Munich] tragedy."

"Bottles and coins were thrown at celebrating players when Robin van Persie struck a late winner for the Reds, with one coin hitting Rio Ferdinand. Two City fans were arrested for pitch invasion."

"Police later stopped a group of City fans trying to make their way back to the ground, where United fans were being held back for 20 minutes, and more missiles were thrown as Reds fans walked towards the city centre."

The author's view of the potential for violence amongst football fans was however revealed in the follow up sentence to the praise about how well United fans had behaved at Liverpool

"They may have been less so if they had seen a sign on the East Lancs Road that had been sprayed with the slogan ‘MUNICH 58’ before the game ..."

The idea that football fans are particularly prone to violence these days is not supported by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures

These figures show that whilst match attendances topped 37 MILLION there were just 2363 arrests and only 263 of these were for violent disorder. Two hundred and sixty three arrests out of over thirty seven million attendances!

There are of course odd flashpoints such as Sir Alex's last ever game at the Hawthorns where a lack of away tickets for our fans meant that many found themselves in the home sections to the obvious consternation of the Baggies fans but these incidents are rare, and certainly not common enough to justify the high levels of policing seen at every Premier League match.

Therefore fans that may now be worried about the return of hooliganism after reading Mike Keegan's piece in the MEN should find reassurance in the Home Office's own statistics.

These show an average of only 0.72 arrests made per match and that in Manchester United's case just 7 of these were for violence - over the whole of the last season for which statistics are available.