Manchester City Council

Tolerance and Trust

I planned to blog today on the street parties and the carnival atmosphere of the UEFA Cup Final as well as my training for Sunday's Great Manchester 10 kilometre run, the next extravaganza in Manchester's World of Sport 08. And it's true that tens of thousands of people did indeed have a good experience thanks to UEFA. The sun shone, the vast majority of fans enjoyed a few (many) drinks, an atmosphere of anticipation and the prospect of their club picking up one of soccer's top trophies.

We witnessed the biggest one-day migration into any city ever seen. A number of people have asked why did we invite them, why did we allow them in? Firstly, they would have come, invited or not, and secondly, we are thankfully living in a country that does allow its citizens freedom of movement. Invited or not, it is a Manchester principle that we welcome visitors to our city.

But sadly, the appalling behaviour of an irresponsible minority spoiled the moment. I can't blog today without passing comment on that disgraceful thuggery. And on the tolerance and trust shown willingly by Manchester yet abused by those hooligans.

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone - no matter how upset - to throw missiles, to use glass bottles as weapons, to attack police and ambulance staff and to vandalise property. Football hooliganism is not a new phenomenon but let's be clear - these people are not football fans - they are criminals; police must deter them and public order must be maintained.

Media coverage showed Manchester looking horrific last night.  But media focussed on only a tiny proportion of the city's activities.  I personally walked through our city from the stadium to the city centre, and then around Piccadilly to see for myself exactly what was happening. I was speaking on my mobile phone to police officers and colleagues in Silver Control, the nerve centre of the policing operation, and I knew the devastation that was being wreaked in small pockets of our urban core.

But it is my personal experience of those hours, that overwhelmingly; Rangers fans were good-humoured, peaceful and quite simply miserable.

 They were downcast, their team had lost and they were looking for consolation and camaraderie. They weren't looking for trouble.  I felt no sense of fear or hostility as I moved among them, just of sadness and disappointment that their team had failed to grasp the trophy. I feel empathy for those Rangers fans - they had passionately wanted to celebrate their club's biggest day for 36 years and it had vanished with two goals from Zenit. They wanted solace and they wanted soul mates, and I'd be happy to welcome them again any time to our city.

They too, like all right-minded people, were shocked by the minority of law-breakers, criminals who wanted destruction and despoliation. Well-behaved, good natured visitors who flooded into Manchester from all points of the globe to support their club with a passion that is powerful to behold have, like me, no empathy for the criminals who turned their cruelty against our city and our residents.

Manchester and its people welcomed the UEFA Cup final with the warmth, tolerance and trust that they put in all our major events which bring so much benefit to our city but that trust has been abused by the criminal minority. It's not the first time we have had similar problems with showing football on a big screen in the city centre. We had terrible problems when we attempted to show an England World Cup game in Exchange Square and we cannot take the risk of showing next week's game in open spaces where we don't know how many people are going to turn up and where controlling the numbers is next to impossible.

So with regret for all the United fans who hopefully will be celebrating next Wednesday night, we and our partners, on the strong advice of Greater Manchester Police, have decided it's not appropriate that big screens should be put in Manchester's public open spaces. Our residents, businesses and city centre users should not be expected to tolerate the risk of disruption, no matter how much benefit the major event would bring.

However, it's a different matter for a big screen to be in a managed venue or even in Old Trafford. Of course many supporters who can't get to Moscow, with or without tickets, will want to watch the game together just as 25,000 fans watched Rangers on Wednesday night at Ibrox and what better place than the home of MUFC. In fact we'd welcome that with open arms. MUFC, over to you....more on this tomorrow. And I will keep my promise to update you on my training for that run.

Finally, a quick word on Council staff, who along with colleagues from Tameside and Salford, managed to clean up our city centre in hours. A real performance!

There are 12 responses to “Tolerance and Trust”

  1. mark hamilton Says:

    Where is the tolerence and trust for the people of manchester?The cancelling of screens and now the postponing of a possible victory parade, an event that would be shown all over the world.Which would once again promote Manchester and its people as some of the worlds greatest supporters of sport.Your decision is a two fingered snub to the hard working,law abiding people of this city.Maybe I should stay in Moscow.

  2. alan cameron Says:

    putting the sacreens in the city centre was irresponsible and foreseeable trouble happened.another example of the short sightedness of our council. the city centre is a place of business not place to collect large numbers of drunks who you would expect to be RUDE DRUNK AND GENERALLY BADLY BEHAVED. You say on tv that how else were we to cope we have a number of large parkd were the screens would have been better situated, Phillips park near the stadium platt fields the abatoir.
    It would have been so much more difficult to bet too much booze at those venues also.
    Anyone who couldn't see the worse of glasgow coming because of the ease of travelling here should be sacked or resign and if they are unaware ofd what the worse of glasgow is must be blind and deaf it is still the most violent bigottecf city in the countries

  3. alan cameron Says:

    NOW THE DIRTY INCOMPETENT CITY FAN STARTS THE COVER UP instead of resigning like we expected the liberal leader in liverpool to do.
    You are also taking it out on local people by treating United fans in such a Biased manner REMEMBER 99 just how much trouble was there then UNITED FANS are not rangers fans ande why would they trash their own city
    put screens in big parks if you rightly don't want diruption to the city centre SHAME you didn't do that for rangers Oh no noi glory for you in that if it worked

  4. Simon Walsh Says:

    I am absolutely appalled at what the City COUNCIL BOTH ENCOURAGED AND FAILED TO MANAGE - SHAME HAS BEE BROUGHT ON Manchester

  5. David Tweedie Says:

    actions of the mindless minority. I AM UNSURE IN HINDSIGHT IF THIS WAS A SUITABLE VENUE FOR THIS O CASSION?Ionce again apologise for these idiots who we have no wish to be associated with.

  6. Sam Chew Says:

    I'm sorry, but this attitude of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted is ridiculous. Manchester has hosted lots of events centred around football in the past, with big screens for big matches, such as Euro 2004 and the World Cup two years ago. In 1999 there was a massive parade through Manchester after United won the treble - guess what? NOONE DIED. NOTHING GOT TRASHED.

    Because of ONE incident Manchester City Council has decided to ruin many other fans' hopes of gathering together. You should all be ashamed of yourselves.

    What next? In the World Cup in two years' time, if England qualify, will Manchester then run away from the idea of City-centre gatherings with its tail between its legs, unlike every other major city centre in the country?

    You are all cowards. Show some backbone, for heaven's sake.

  7. Jay Says:

    I agree that Manchester MUST remain open to everyone around the world ... it fits the traditions, history, stature and future aspirations of this great city.

    GMP and representatives of MCC conducted themselves in a restrained and civilized manner in the face of extraordinary provocation by some people fuelled by alcohol and a thuggish tribal mentality.

    However, I would strongly urge GMP+MCC to [seriously] consider banning the consumption of alcohol in public spaces for such events in future. In Moscow, it is illegal to consume any alcoholic beverage in a public place. I, also, feel that police rsources were spread very thin on the ground. In retrospect, GMP should not have been used as an escort service for Rangers supporters heading out of Piccadilly in search of a big screen. This was a strategic error in my view.
    I am sure the city can learn lessons.

  8. james Says:

    if screens can not be put up in the city center why not move some screens to outdoor venues such as heaton park etc...

  9. Roy Foulkes Says:

    First of all I would like to say, what with about 100 000 to nearly 150 000 fans desending into our great City for the Final at COMS and with the Council having last minute details of who was playing who , it was going to be difficult at the best of time. I think everyone involved in holding the fans zones and the people at the Stadium should hold their heads up high.
    I for one ,did my best in having about 850 Rangers fans attend Droylsden Football for a party and what a party it was - Bands playing , Sing a longs and just great people and polite to say the word was an understatement.
    I am just waiting on my team Manchester City FC to play in a final ( fat chance ha ha ha ha ).
    Let`s have another ( That`s if the leaders heart can take it).

  10. Alan Salter Says:

    I was proud of Manchester on Wednesday morning as the Rangers fans got such a warm welcome. And I was sickened beyond description to see what happened later.
    OK it was a minority but how long do we trot that one out before we stand up and do something.
    If there are big screens tomorrow, it will be a betrayal of everyone who lives and works in the city centre.

  11. Mark Bell Says:

    I am sick of the fact that these thugs are constantly let of the hook with the statment 'these are not football fans'. They are they are football fans and thugs. Stop this constant shifting of blame from thuggish hooligans with this glib statement. They are football fans and hooligans who enjoy watching what is a thuggish sport. you have to look at the players themselves and their behaviour they are thugs or are they not proper football players when they abuse the crowd or the referee or even other members of the public in bars or restaurants as has happened in Newcastle with one of their players jailed. Would you therefore decribe him a not a proper footballer because he is a thug?

    Football is one of the few sports that has this element attached to it and if not involved then most of those fans know who the trouble makers are.

  12. carla Says:

    unbelievable that we can't welcome our team home 2 trophys we should be proud

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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