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Fans' excluded from key derby day decisions

Supporters of Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United have criticised the clubs and authorities this week for excluding fans from major decisions around their derby fixtures.

The allocation for away fans at tonight’s Manchester derby in the League Cup semi-final, and the second leg at the Etihad, will be restricted to 3,000. This is significantly lower than the 10% of ground capacity set by the EFL (5,500 at the Etihad and 7,300 at Old Trafford).

Supporters from both clubs have criticised the reduction which was implemented without consultation with either set of fans.

“The whole of Manchester – blue and red – was buzzing for these ties and part of that was the fact that allocations would be higher than for a normal league game,” said Manchester City’s 1894 Group.

“If the clubs truly cared about fans they would have put these plans on the table and asked supporters to give their view. We feel it is a very short-sighted decision.”

Manchester United Supporters’ Trust (MUST) said the authorities and clubs should involve fans in major decisions around the fixtures and called on the Sports Ground Safety Authority to make this a mandatory requirement.

“Cutting allocations can have safety implications and these decisions should require input from all stakeholders,” MUST said last night.

“Good practice does already exist, not least in our own previous working relationship with our club and with Greater Manchester Police (GMP), and with a few local Safety Advisory Groups, but this good practice needs to become standard, meaningful and sincere.”

Likewise, ahead of Sunday’s Merseyside derby in the FA Cup the authorities were criticised for ignoring fans’ concerns over the policing operation and the introduction of a strict segregation and a dispersal area around Anfield.

Liverpool’s Spirit of Shankly and Everton’s Blue Union supporter groups issued a joint statement condemning the changes to the policing of the fixture which were taken without consultation with fans.

“The changes made for this game appear to us to be heavy handed, disproportionate and out of touch with the reality of the overwhelming majority of Liverpool and Everton match-going fans,” they said.

“All of this could and should have been discussed and debated in what had been up until recently, the tried and trusted way of engaging with fans beforehand.”

Supporters claim the escalation in the police operation, and the restrictions that came with it, had a much wider impact on the local community and sets a worrying precedent for future fixtures between the two sides.

“The decisions taken also have to be questioned as to why and on what basis they have been taken,” Spirit of Shankly and Blue Union said.

“We are not naive to assume that no issues arise for the policing, stewarding and health and safety of such games however we are led to believe there were just two arrests at the last game, neither for fan on fan issues, attended by over 54,000 fans.”

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