Manchester City officials are bemused after Merseyside Police admitted they had ‘exhausted lines of enquiry’ having failed to make a single arrest more than five months after City’s coach was attacked on its way into Anfield.
Bottles, bricks and flares were launched at the vehicle carrying Pep Guardiola and his team amid unruly scenes on the streets close to the ground ahead of the April 4 Champions League quarter-final first leg.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused to the bus, with a replacement brought in to take City home.
Merseyside Police launched an investigation into the attack, which Sportsmail had warned of weeks before the quarter-final fixture when it emerged a group of Liverpool supporters were urging others to create a hostile reception for the travelling party.
However, despite footage from inside the coach and what appears to be an abundance of video clips online, the force is yet to make a single arrest. On Thursday, they announced that they had concluded viewing hours of CCTV and mobile phone footage to no avail.
City declined to comment on the matter, although privately officials at the Etihad Stadium are staggered by the apparent lack of success of the investigation.
Given the advance warning, availability of footage and presence of police spotters at the scene, there is surprise that – as of yet – not one person has been brought to justice.
Next week, Liverpool return to Champions League action when they host Paris Saint-Germain. The Merseyside club were fined £17,600 by UEFA following the attack, although it is thought that there are no fears of any repeat when the French side travel to Anfield.
On October 7, City return to the same venue for the first time since the attack for a Premier League fixture. It is understood that senior officials from the club have met with Merseyside Police ahead of the clash in an attempt to ensure there is no repeat of the trouble.
Announcing that current lines of enquiry had been exhausted, Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley, from Merseyside Police, said: ‘There were a group of people intent on causing trouble and a number of items, including flares were thrown at the team coach.
‘Thankfully no-one on the bus, or any members of the public, were injured. Unfortunately, several of our officers sustained injuries when projectiles were thrown towards the bus. It is testament to them that they carried out their duty to ensure the match went ahead.
‘Following the incident detectives carried out an extensive investigation, which included viewing more than 130 hours of CCTV, body worn camera and phone footage and we worked with both football clubs, to obtain information and evidence, in order to identify those involved.
‘Unfortunately there was no further footage from those on the coach and the other footage viewed by detectives was either clouded by smoke from flares thrown during the disorder, or didn’t show the faces of those involved.
‘This was an act of serious disorder by people, who spoiled what should have been a celebratory event for genuine football goers.
‘We are disappointed at this time that no-one has been brought to justice and would re-appeal to anyone who was at the ground on 4 April, who witnessed this appalling behaviour, and has information which could help us identify those involved, to contact us.’