Manchester City are considering introducing netting in the away section at the Etihad Stadium following numerous incidents at matches against rivals Liverpool – the latest of which left a 15-year-old girl ‘scarred for life’.
The Premier League champions have acted after the teenager was struck by a beer pot weighted with coins that had been hurled from the visiting area during December’s Carabao Cup clash. A harrowing picture of the girl’s bloodstained blue-and-white scarf later emerged on social media.
City have now raised the issue at a meeting with safety officials and Manchester council and are looking at bringing in the measure on a ‘case-by-case’ basis, according to town hall sources.
Liverpool chief executive Billy Hogan called the child’s father, who said that his daughter had been scarred for life, to offer an ‘unreserved apology’ but City have reluctantly decided to act, believing they have little choice and need to protect their own supporters.
At a safety group meeting it was disclosed that more than 50 reports were made at the game of missiles being launched from the away end and that there were regularly problems when the two clashed at the Etihad.
A 15-year-old girl was left ‘scarred for life’ after a Liverpool fan threw a beer pot weighted with coins from the top-tier away section at the Etihad Stadium during December’s EFL Cup tie
She was injured by a hard plastic pint cup filled with coins and liquid thrown from the away end
A shocking image emerged on social media of the child’s bloodstained scarf after the incident
Netting is commonplace at certain European matches but is rarely seen at Premier League fixtures.
It would only be installed at City’s home should officials believe before the match that there is a substantial risk of trouble from the away end. It would also offer protection to players from missiles being thrown.
The presence of such a measure would provide a sad indictment of fan behaviour in this country.
There have been a number of issues at recent matches but the latest is viewed as the final straw.
The girl was hit shortly after Fabio Carvalho had equalised in the 20th minute of the clash, which City went on to win 3-2. Games in domestic cup competitions, in which away sides receive larger allocations, would come under the microscope should City decide to go ahead with the plan.
For those matches, visiting supporters tend to be given a whole upper tier, and so netting would be in front of them. The situation is more complicated for league matches, where fans are in three tiers, and so netting in front and at both sides would be required.
City next face Liverpool on April 1 in the Premier League. It is not yet known whether the nets, which would be flame resistant, easy to see through and quickly dismantled in the event of an emergency, would be in place for that match.
Hogan added that Liverpool were committed to finding the offender. That is not thought to have happened yet.
A (RECENT) HISTORY OF ANIMOSITY
City’s team bus is struck by bricks, flares and other missiles as they arrive at Anfield for a Champions League quarter-final, forcing the club to change vehicles for the return journey. Liverpool are fined by UEFA but police make no arrests.
City make an official complaint that members of their coaching staff were spat at while on the bench at Anfield. Liverpool launch an inquiry but find no evidence.
A minority of City fans interrupt a minute’s silence to remember victims of the Hillsborough disaster before the FA Cup semi-final.
Jurgen Klopp is sent off for ranting at assistant referee Gary Beswick and Pep Guardiola claims coins were thrown at him by Liverpool fans. The next day, City allege their bus was attacked again. Pictures emerge of graffiti referring to Hillsborough and Heysel in vandalised toilets at the away end of Anfield.
City say that comments made by Klopp about the financial disparity between the sides were responsible for the toxic atmosphere and brand them ‘borderline xenophobic and racist’.
Both clubs call for calm before a Carabao Cup tie but the message is ignored.
A 15-year-old girl is ‘scarred for life’ after a beer pot filled with coins is thrown from the Liverpool section.
A 53-year-old, believed to be a City fan, is assaulted outside the Etihad and taken to hospital. Disabled Liverpool fans are racially abused.
City are looking at putting netting in place to separate the home and away supporters
Ahead of that fixture, the clubs had issued a joint statement appealing for calm between the two supporters with the rivalry growing more toxic. But it appeared to have little impact.
Greater Manchester Police said they were aware of ‘a number of objects’ thrown during the game while a 53-year-old, believed to be a City fan, was taken to hospital having been assaulted close to the ground.
Disabled Liverpool supporters were subjected to racist abuse, with GMP confirming a man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.
Previous matches have also faced issues. In 2018, Merseyside Police failed to make a single arrest after City’s coach was hit by bottles, bricks and flares ahead of a Champions League quarter-final.
Large travelling supports for cup games at the Etihad Stadium occupy the upper tier
A flare is set off in the Manchester City end during December’s game with Liverpool
Pep Guardiola claimed he was targeted by coins when City lost at Anfield in October, and City said their team bus was also attacked, with damage to the windscreen pictured above (right)
Thousands of pounds of damage was caused with a replacement brought in to take City home. In 2021, City’s bench complained they had been spat at during a match at Anfield and passed images to Liverpool who forwarded them to Merseyside Police.
Again, no arrests were made and the same can be said of the last clash on Merseyside in October of last year, where Pep Guardiola complained that coins had been thrown at him.
Manchester City declined to comment. Liverpool and Merseyside Police did not respond to requests for comment.
City fans were accused of trashing the Anfield away end and singing Hillsborough chants