Gill keen to share Munich memorial with City

February 5, 2008

David Gill is determined to ensure the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster is not a Manchester United-only affair.

Twenty-three people lost their lives in the crash, 11 of whom were either United players or staff.

Most of the remaining 12 were journalists, who included among their number former Manchester City goalkeeper Frank Swift.

There have been fears the minute's silence in memory of the victims at Sunday's Manchester derby could be disrupted by some City fans.

But United chief executive Gill was keen to point out the whole of the city and beyond was affected by the disaster.

'We've been working closely with City and discussed it with them,' Gill said.

'Frank Swift was one of their greatest goalkeepers and we've talked to them about the plans for the day.

'They're aware of what we're doing, for example with the kit, and they're doing something special with their kit as well. We'll be giving a memento to every fan, both United and City.

'There are 3,000 City fans going through the gate on the day and we're involving some of their former players on the day.

'We're working to ensure they remember that it wasn't just Manchester United, it was the city of Manchester that was affected and it was the world of football that was affected.

'We hope and believe that the minute's silence will be observed appropriately.'

Gill believes United have taken all the necessary steps to ensure the silence is respected by everyone.

He said: 'In football, there is always trepidation and it's a very tribal game.

'That's why we've worked on the communication and the explanations so we can honour it appropriately and respect it.

'If you look back and see that 23 people lost their lives, of which eight were footballers in their early 20s by and large...

'It's a true tragedy for football so if you're a football fan, as the fans coming through the gate will be, you should reflect on that and make sure that you behave appropriately.'

The centrepiece of the commemorations will be tomorrow's unveiling of a free, permanent exhibition of the Busby Babes in the South Stand tunnel - to be renamed Munich Tunnel.

A memorial service will be conducted by the club chaplain to coincide with the time of crash at 3.04pm.

There will also be a minute's silence at tomorrow's Wembley friendly between England and Switzerland.

Defender Rio Ferdinand is sure the crowd, despite an antipathy towards United players in the past, will show respect.

He said: 'I'm sure the fans will respect it - it's a poignant moment and we've got fantastic fans in this country.

'It's not just about Manchester United, it's about English football as well.'

On Sunday, United players will wear a 1950s-style kit, free from sponsorship and numbered one to 11. City are also planning to wear a special strip.