Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has written a letter to his side's traveling supporters for their game against Liverpool on Sunday urging them to "stand with" their rivals and end tensions between the two clubs.
Relations have been strained over recent years, with last season's controversy surrounding racist abuse between Luis Suarez and Patrice Evra creating an unsavoury atmosphere amongst fans.
Incidents of United fans standing in the way of gangways at away visits had prompted Liverpool to reduce ticket allocations for the Red Devils, a situation about which Sir Alex had previously spoken out.
After the publication of a report earlier in September exonerating Liverpool fans of responsibility for the deaths of 96 supporters at the Hillsborough disaster of 1989, and with a history of distasteful chanting about that tragedy to taunt the Anfield side, the Scot appealed to the better judgement of his team's following.
"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 honour for so long," Sir Alex wrote in a document that will be handed out to all fans in the away end at Sunday's Premier League match.
"It cannot and should never be based on personal hatred."
Sir Alex Ferguson's letter in full...
The great support you gave the team here last season has seen our allocation back up to near-full levels. I want you to continue that progress today.
But today is about much more than not blocking gangways. Today is about thinking hard about what makes United the best club in the world.
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 honour for so long.
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.
Our great club stands with our great neighbours Liverpool today to remember that loss and pay tribute to their campaign for justice. I know I can count on you to stand with us in the best traditions of the best fans in the game.