Ferguson asks fans to back rivals on Hillsborough

BY foxsports • September 21, 2012

Alex Ferguson is urging Manchester United fans to back Liverpool's campaign for justice over the Hillsborough stadium disaster when the sides meet Sunday for the first time since the release of a damning report into the 1989 tragedy.

The full-scale of wrongdoing by authorities after the death of 96 Liverpool fans in a crush at an FA Cup semifinal was exposed last week, with police shown to have attempted to shift the blame to supporters by instructing officers to change statements.

Despite the series of revelations about the cover-up, United fans responded to the release of the Hillsborough report with tasteless taunts about the tragedy during Saturday's match against Wigan.

It was a reminder ahead of Sunday's trip to Liverpool how the rivalry between England's two most successful teams often spills over into goading in the stands.

However, United and Liverpool executives met this week to plan tributes before the match to remember the 96 victims and mark the continuing fight for justice by families hoping to get the verdict overturned from the original inquest hearing, which ruled the deaths were accidental.

''Our great club stands with our great neighbors Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to their campaign for justice,'' Ferguson writes in a letter that will be presented to fans at Anfield on Sunday. ''I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.''

Ferguson is demanding an end to the hostilities, which have often seen Liverpool fans taunt their counterparts about the Munich air disaster in 1958 that claimed the lives of eight United players.

''Our rivalry with Liverpool is based on a determination to come out on top - a wish to see us crowned the best against a team that held that honor for so long,'' Ferguson said in the letter released by United. ''It cannot and should never be based on personal hatred.

''Just 10 days ago, we heard the terrible, damning truth about the deaths of 96 fans who went to watch their team try and reach the FA Cup final and never came back. What happened to them should wake the conscience of everyone connected with the game.''

At Anfield, a mosaic will be displayed by fans around three sides of the ground before kickoff, while 96 balloons will be released by captains Steven Gerrard and Nemanja Vidic.

Kenny Dalglish, who was manager at the time of the disaster, will be at Anfield for the first time since his second spell in charge of Liverpool ended last May.

''Other clubs have shown fantastic support to the families,'' Dalglish tweeted on Friday. ''Now it's time to show ours.''