Greater Manchester Police have confirmed that two men have been charged in relation to a banner with the word "murderers" on it that was hung off a motorway bridge prior to the Europa League tie between Manchester United and Liverpool.
The banner, which also bore the date of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, appears to have been aimed at Liverpool fans travelling on the M602 towards Old Trafford. It naturally caused outrage on Twitter and police moved quickly to get it taken down.
A 24-year-old from Oldham and a 20-year-old from Manchester are due to appear before Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court on 25 April to respond to a public order offence charge.
In an unrelated matter, police also released the faces of nine men who they wish to speak to in connection with fan violence that broke out in the East Stand. One child was hurt in the ensuing chaos after they were hit with a plastic seat and a number of arrests were made.
Detective Sergeant Stephen Warriner told the Guardian: “A young child was hurt as a result of these mindless thugs, who paid absolutely no regard to the safety of those around them. A number of arrests have already been carried out, but now we need the public’s help to ensure those people capable of carrying out such violence are no longer welcome at our football grounds.”
The two-legged tie, in which Liverpool progressed to the quarter-finals, also saw Manchester United fans sing offensive songs about the Hillsborough disaster at Anfield. The chants were condemned by both clubs but Uefa chose against disciplinary action.
United said in a statement: “It has always been the position of Manchester United that chants of this nature, which refer to historical tragedies, have no place in the game and do not reflect the values the club holds. We are in discussion with our fans’ groups to seek their support in preventing this type of behaviour in the future.”
Liverpool fans themselves are believed to have been responsible for another banner, which appeared on a bridge over the M62 before the first leg of that tie. Reading 'Man Ba******", the post is certainly offensive but much less so than the one in which two men are now set to stand trial over.