Rangers play down talk of Manchester trouble
Rangers Supporters Trust chairman Stephen Smith has moved quickly to quash any possible talk of a travelling ban on Light Blues fans for the Champions League clash with Manchester United at Old Trafford.
United and Rangers were drawn together in Group C at the draw in Monaco, along with Spanish side Valencia and Turkey's Bursaspor.
There was no fan trouble at Old Trafford when the Red Devils met Rangers at the same stage in 2003-04 with Sir Alex Ferguson's side winning 3-0 at home, following a 1-0 win at Ibrox.
However, the 2008 UEFA Cup final in Manchester between Rangers and Zenit St Petersburg, which the Govan side lost 2-0, was marred by the behaviour of some Ibrox fans in the city centre before, during and after the game.
But Smith put up a robust defence of his fellow supporters, saying: ''People will make a lot of the fact that we are going back to Manchester but I don't see any reason at all why Rangers fans shouldn't be allowed to go because of the over-hyped bother in 2008.
''There were around 200,000 Rangers fans in Manchester for the final and only a tiny, tiny amount, a tiny fraction, were involved in trouble. The fans who go this time will be legitimate Rangers fans who are members of the travel club.
''I was down at Old Trafford when we played Manchester United in the Champions League and there was no trouble. What I do hope for is better policing for the game at Ibrox. The last time United fans came up here they were allowed to run riot down Paisley Road West.''
Rangers Supporters Assembly president, Andy Kerr, also played down any fears about the trip to Manchester.
Kerr said: ''Competing in the Champions League group stage is vitally important for the club and is, as always, an exciting prospect for all our fans to look forward to.
''We are paired once again with Manchester United and that will attract tremendous interest across the UK and beyond. No doubt the prospect of Rangers fans visiting Manchester again so soon after the 2008 UEFA Cup Final will attract reaction in the media.
''However, we played a Champions League tie at Old Trafford in 2003 and the event passed off without incident and it is a tie we all look forward to. Clearly, the number of fans making the trip will be a fraction of the numbers that travelled for the UEFA Cup Final.
''The arrangements we have in place through the Rangers Travel Club will ensure that there is strong control over the fans that will travel. We all look forward to an enjoyable and, hopefully successful, campaign and I am very confident that all our fans will do us proud and bring colour and atmosphere to all the ties.''