Outside the Box: United fans see red as Old Trafford stewards ban banners

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The Independent Online

Rumblings on Manchester United's Stretford End in the past week, and not just because of the results against Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Fans have protested that stewards were breaking ground regulations by blocking the exit gangways towards the end of the Chelsea game, in order to prevent any anti-Glazer banners being displayed. The club's defence is that it is fans who have been clogging up the gangways "systematically and aggressively" in order to drape protest banners from the upper tier, which, they say, blocks the view of those down below. Greater Manchester Police added to the numbers congesting the stand at the Chelsea match but did not have to intervene and their match commander says he would like to discuss the matter with supporters, assuring them that "the police remain impartial, that we are not and never will be agents for any interest but that we will continue to deal with any disorder or allegations in an even-handed manner". Colourful and imaginative as it is, the green-and-gold protest is open to occasional mockery, such as the Chelsea followers' chant last Saturday: "It's so quiet, Carrow Road".

Cap fits for Stokies

Meanwhile Stoke City supporters, leaders in the field of end-of-season fancy dress, have chosen to honour their manager Tony Pulis for ensuring a third season in the Premier League. For the home game against Bolton on Saturday, Stokies are planning to turn up in trademark Pulis attire of tracksuit and baseball cap (which unkind souls say will not be a huge fashion leap for many of them). Those taking part will be asked to donate to the manager's favourite charity, The Donna Louise Trust, a local hospice, and it's all being called "Day of the T'riffics" after Pulis's habit of hailing a good performance by team or player as "t'riffic".

Hunting a new record

Exactly a year ago we wrote about a new world record set by teams from Bristol and Leeds, who played a match lasting 36 hours (defences on top, final score 255-285). It must be something in the spring air; some brave boys in Huntingdon now aim to increase that to 50 hours, starting at 10am on Friday 7 May and finishing just in time to collapse in front of the television set on Sunday lunchtime and watch the climax to the Premier League season. Players are allowed a break of only five minutes for every hour played, which will be the equivalent of 33 matches in succession. It's all in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, the John Hartson Foundation and the Sports Connections Foundation. Go to football50.co.uk.

Juve been framed?

Hard financial times demand new thinking, so Juventus in Italy are splitting their shirt sponsorship in two, one backer for the home strip and one for the away kit. As the iconic black-and-white stripes on the home shirt were originally copied from Notts County, it may be appropriate that a British firm, BetClic, should be the new name on that kit. Whether bookmakers are the ideal partners at a time when match-fixing is again raising its head across Europe is another matter; and the timing of the announcement was unfortunate, coming two days before reports that the Italian FA will consider reopening investigations into the bribery scandal that led to Juve being stripped of Serie A titles in 2005 and 2006 and suffering relegation for the first time in their history.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk

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