Ferguson plays down prospect of trouble

Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced there will be no repeat of the violence that blighted Rangers' last visit to Manchester when the Glasgow giants head south for a Champions League meeting with United on September 14.

Supporters and riot police fought running battles in the streets around the 2008 UEFA Cup final, when over 100,000 Rangers fans headed south without tickets.

Forty-two fans were arrested on the night and scores were injured as fighting continued, the mood not helped by the failure of a big screen that was due to show Rangers' match with Zenit St Petersburg, which they eventually lost, leaving supporters staring at a blank screen in one of the busiest parts of the city.

Yesterday's draw sent Rangers back to Manchester for the first time since that ill-fated night, with the clash opening the two sides' respective campaigns next month.

For Ferguson, a former Rangers player, it is an occasion to relish, and not one he expects to be spoiled by rowdy fans.

"There were circumstances that day," he said, referring to Rangers' previous visit to Manchester.

"I don't think it was well organised because fans were invited down without tickets.

"It is like every club. Rangers have fantastic supporters but they have some bad elements.

"The unfortunate incidents that day maybe could have been avoided.

"Too many travelled without tickets. It won't happen again because we will be giving Rangers their proper allocation and they will control where the tickets are going.

"I don't expect Rangers fans to travel without a ticket."

Under competition regulations, Rangers will be given an allocation of around 4,000.

Assistant chief constable Ian Hopkins has already expressed his belief the game will pass off without incident, saying: "Greater Manchester Police is extremely experienced at policing high profile European football matches.

"We will be working in partnership with the clubs and football authorities to ensure this is a safe and enjoyable game for all."

Manchester City Council intend to arrange the evening in a slightly different way, and confirmed there will be no big screens erected for fans to watch the game.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Manchester City Council's executive member for culture and leisure, said: "This is an early group stage match so the circumstances are different to the UEFA Cup final but we will be working closely with the police to make sure that there is not a repeat of what happened in 2008.

"We will not be showing the game on big screens, as would be the case for any group stage match.

"Manchester regularly hosts major sporting events and week in week out we work with Premiership clubs to ensure fans both home and away enjoy their sport in our city.

"We will welcome genuine football fans as usual and will work with our partners to deliver a safe event."

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