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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 January 2008, 16:29 GMT
Man Utd opt for minute's silence
The memorial clock at Old Trafford shows the time of the air crash on 6 February 1958
The memorial clock at Old Trafford commemorates the disaster
Manchester United say they intend to stick with their plans to hold a minute's silence to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster.

The club had been asked by Manchester City's supporters' club to have a minute's applause before their home Premier League game on 10 February.

It feared that the occasion could be marred by disrespectful visiting fans.

But United spokesman Phil Townsend said they would not change their plans, telling the BBC: "It's a solemn event."

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Our view is that the minute's silence is a more appropriate way of recognising a disaster that killed 23 people.

"I don't think we should change those plans because of the fear of a few idiots who might want to spoil it."

It is their decision because it is their home game and, clearly, the tragedy was felt more at Manchester United than anywhere else

Paul Tyrrell
Manchester City spokesman

Eight United stars and former City goalkeeper Frank Swift were among those who lost their lives as a result of the crash, which happened on 6 February, 1958.

Their plane was attempting to take off in poor weather conditions after stopping to re-fuel following the club's European Cup game against Red Star Belgrade.

"It was a crash that affected the whole of Manchester," said Townsend.

"It is very much Manchester's 'Kennedy moment' - everyone of that generation knew where they were when they heard the terrible news.

"It is not just about Manchester United, it is about the city and about the way it pulled together in the aftermath of the tragedy."

Manchester City spokesman Paul Tyrrell told BBC Sport: "We have already made representations to Manchester United about the commemorations and the two clubs have been working together for a number of months.

"We are wearing a special kit, decorating the away concourse area, and members of Frank Swift's family are attending the game.

606: DEBATE

"We also spoke to United and expressed our concerns about a minute's silence.

"United took those concerns away and came back and said they wished to continue with the idea of a minute's silence.

"We respect their decision and, ultimately, it is their decision because it is their home game and, clearly, the tragedy was felt more at Manchester United than anywhere else.

"However, the whole of Manchester shared the grief."

Both United and City have already announced they will wear special kits for the Manchester derby.

United will wear a replica of their 1958 kit, devoid of the players' names or shirt numbers, while City's will incorporate a black ribbon with their sponsor's branding removed.

City's supporters' club spokesman Kevin Parker explained the reasoning behind its decision to write to United requesting a minute's applause, saying it would only take one "buffoon" or "idiot" to ruin the special occasion.

If Manchester United played Liverpool on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, I'm sure that they wouldn't hold a minute's silence

Kevin Parker, Manchester City supporters club spokesman

"Being a Manchester City fan and living in the city of Manchester all my life, I know the rivalry between these two football clubs," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Unfortunately, there is also, in some small areas, a great degree of hatred.

"We are concerned as an organisation that it will only take one of those idiots to decide to shout something stupid and then the whole situation has been spoilt forever.

"We are calling for applause just in case. We can't be wrong for doing that, surely.

"We want this to be for the good of football, the good of Manchester, for the good of Manchester City."

He added: "If Manchester United played Liverpool on the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, I'm sure that they wouldn't hold a minute's silence.

"I'm sure they would now consider holding a minute's applause instead. It's the reality of the situation. We can't be wrong for asking Manchester United to consider this."

City have also written to the 3,000 of their fans who have tickets for the derby to ask them to show respect.

Former Manchester City goalkeeper Steve Fleet - who was close friends with Eddie Colman, the youngest of the Busby Babes to die in the crash - agreed a minute's silence was the best way of remembering the occasion.

"It's only through silence your thoughts can go out," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "A pregnant silence is a wonderful thing."



SEE ALSO
Minute's silence for Munich crash
16 Jan 08 |  Football
Eriksson calls for Munich respect
10 Jan 08 |  Man City


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