Manchester City accept it will be difficult to prosecute or ban fans whose songs referring to the Munich air crash are not accompanied by aeroplane gestures, despite the club's preparations for a new drive against the offensive chants which resurfaced at Blackburn on Monday night.
Some fans' use of the vile anthem was raised at City's management meeting at Eastlands yesterday and the club plans to use both its match-day programme and website to appeal to supporters, who have been prosecuted by City in the past. But though the authorities' intolerance of the abuse was made clear last month when a Crawley Town fan was handed a suspended jail term for making a gesture related to Munich during the club's FA Cup tie at Old Trafford, any attempts to prosecute a group of, say, a hundred fans who engage in the chanting would be very difficult.
The banning orders taken out by the club have been limited to those supporters caught on camera making gestures, in an allusion to the crash which claimed the lives of 20 people, including eight Manchester United players, in February 1958.
A section of the City supporters remain resolutely undeterred by the club's messages on the subject, with some of the online community yesterday defending their use of the term "Munichs" as a collective to describe United supporters as a whole.
In a week when Chris Chibnall's BBC dramatisation of the Munich air disaster, United, revisited what happened when the club's plane stopped to refuel at Munich, the chants will only provoke ill-feeling between the two Manchester clubs, who could meet in next season's Community Shield at Wembley in August. City will be keen to prevent the embarrassment of further Munich crash gestures when the club take to the national stage for the FA Cup final against Stoke on 14 May.