Manchester City are putting in place a high-level safety strategy ahead of their Champions League tie against Napoli and taking security advice from several clubs, including Manchester United and Liverpool, whose supporters have been the victims of stabbings on recent trips to Italy.
City have been warned the fixture represents a high-risk occasion after six Bayern Munich supporters were stabbed before a game at the Stadio San Paolo last month. Three Liverpool supporters were slashed, and four others were hospitalised in separate clashes, when they visited Naples in October last year, and the culture of weapon-related violence was further exposed after that tie when the police revealed an array of implements that had been used in the attacks, including a baseball bat, metal bars with screws protruding and knuckle-dusters.
City have spoken to United to ask for their advice about how they have prepared for trips to Rome, Milan and Turin and, following the lead of their neighbours, they will supply detailed safety information to the 3,000 fans who are heading to Italy for the game on 22 November.
Security staff have been out to Naples to learn more about the issues with the notorious "Ultras" and the club will advise their supporters about parts of the city to avoid, the importance of not becoming isolated and of being aware about what has happened in the past. They also intend to speak to Bayern and Liverpool after being made aware via the Naples authorities that there is a strong likelihood large groups of Italians will be patrolling the streets, often on scooters, looking for opposition fans.
All the German victims suffered the traditional calling card of being slashed across the buttocks, back or legs. Two of the stabbings took place in the area around the city's main station, and the other four happened near the stadium. Luigi de Magistris, the mayor of Naples, condemned the violence, saying "episodes like this offend the festive spirit and positive expectations around the city".
Italian clubs have a long history of knife-related incidents against English supporters and Liverpool posted advice on the club's website before their game in Naples advising fans to "be careful, stick together and heed the safety advice provided with your match ticket". United have warned their fans before trips to Italy that there is a "real danger" of being attacked.
Around 1,200 police officers will be on duty for a game that will go a long way to determining qualification place for the knockout stages. City's 3-0 defeat of Villarreal at El Madrigal on Wednesday has moved them ahead of Napoli into second position and a win would guarantee Roberto Mancini's men a place in the next stage.
The victory came at a cost, though, with David Silva leaving the pitch in the second half with a bang to the back. The Spaniard is having treatment ahead of Saturday's game at Queens Park Rangers but Mancini is planning considerable changes to reduce the risk of fatigue.
"We need to recover well because we are playing just 60 hours after Villarreal," he said. "I need to change some players because it is impossible otherwise."