Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Thursday, 22 May 2008 18:36 UK

Fans call for homecoming parade

Manchester United fans celebrating outside Old Trafford
Manchester United fans celebrated the club's win outside Old Trafford ground

Manchester United fans are calling for a homecoming victory parade after the club's win against Chelsea in the Champions League final.

Greater Manchester Police insist that no parade can be held until the summer citing a "serious risk to public safety" if it was held this week.

But fans have criticised the decision, and have the support of some United players and local politicians.

Supporter Dave Wilson said a summer parade would be a "non-event".

In Portsmouth, tens of thousands of people lined the city's streets as the FA Cup winners returned home. Police made one arrest.

Graham Stringer, MP for Manchester Blackley, told BBC Five Live: "If Hampshire police can police that celebration of a quarter of a million people, then it's just completely unacceptable for Greater Manchester police to say they're not up to the job.

"Quite frankly, if they're not up to the job, then they should bring in somebody else who can do it."

We will do whatever we need to do
Manchester City Council Leader Richard Leese

United defender Nemanja Vidic said some players were disappointed not to be able to celebrate with supporters.

Speaking in Moscow, he said: "This is a good moment to celebrate with fans, to say hi to them, to say thank you for what they did for us all year; they give us the big support."

Mr Wilson was one of dozens of supporters who contacted the BBC Manchester website to criticise the police stance.

He said: "The real football fans have lost out to the hooligans again, a victory parade weeks after the event is a non-event."

Another fan blamed Glasgow Rangers fans, who clashed with police after they lost the Uefa Cup final in Manchester last week.

The fan, known only as Nicola, said: "The authorities need to get their act together to show the rest of the world that Manchester can organise celebrations without any trouble."

Manchester United homecoming parade in 1999
Thousands of people celebrated in Manchester in 1999

The Chief Executive of Manchester United, David Gill, also blamed the trouble caused in Manchester city centre after Rangers' defeat in the UEFA Cup.

He said: "Well we looked at it and we were planning for that and then unfortunately some of the issues that came out of the UEFA cup game a week last Wednesday, meant that, in discussions with the two councils and GMP it was felt it was not appropriate to hold one.

"No doubt we will celebrate with our fans over the course of the summer months, we hope."

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson, from Greater Manchester Police (GMP), maintained the parade was off over safety concerns.

He said: "GMP's primary concern is the safety of the people of Greater Manchester and the fans of the club.

"It is right and fitting that Manchester United's fans should have the chance to celebrate the club's success this year in the event of a win on Wednesday, but they should do this in safety."

'Crowd crush'

He also referred to the last homecoming event, which was held when Manchester United won the treble in 1999.

He said there were serious safety issues raised and risks of a crowd crush.

"Manchester United is the biggest football club in the world and we believe any event would attract more people than in 1999," he said.

"We have agreed to work towards an event in the summer where those celebrations could take place in safety."

Manchester and Trafford councils, who were involved in talks with police, have said they would support a parade.

Writing on his blog, the leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese said they had made it clear that it was a decision for Manchester United and Greater Manchester Police.

He said: "If Manchester United wants a parade, then we are quite happy to do our bit.

"We will do whatever we need to do."


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