Malcolm Clarke, chairman of the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF), has dismissed suggestions that nets should be erected behind goals to protect players from attacks by supporters.

His comments come after Rio Ferdinand was left with a cut above the eye from a coin thrown by a Manchester City fan towards the end of United’s dramatic victory at the Etihad.

But Clarke feels netting is unnecessary, pointing to the vast reduction in arrests at grounds over the last year.

He told The Guardian: “Netting is not something we feel is necessary to have. No one condones the throwing of missiles, but arrests last season were 24% down on previous seasons and not many social phenomenon alter that much.

“It is undoubtedly improving and I think before we start making knee-jerk reactions to particular incidents we ought to bear that in mind.”

Sunday’s scenes had prompted Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers’ Association, to suggest separating fans from players with netting.

Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think you’ve got to give consideration to possibly, as has been suggested, some netting in vulnerable areas, be it behind the goals and round the corner flags.”

Thirteen arrests were made at the Etihad Stadium, nine of whom have been charged for a variety of offences, including racially aggravated public order offences and football banning orders such as drunk and disorderly behaviour and pitch encroachment. All nine are due before Manchester City magistrates court on 4th January.