Police issued an apology after around 80 football supporters were prevented from attending a match at Manchester United's Old Trafford ground.

The Stoke City fans, who had travelled from Staffordshire to attend the away game in November, were sent back home after Greater Manchester Police (GMP) received intelligence about planned violence between hooligan groups.

Following complaints from a number of Stoke City fans, and criticism from the Football Supporters' Federation and the human rights group Liberty, the GMP has apologised to six of the supporters who it now acknowledges did not pose any threat.

Assistant Chief Constable Justine Curran said: "On the day in question we were faced with intelligence that around 80 fans were intent on causing trouble and we had a duty to keep public order.

"Subsequent detailed inquiries have shown that a small proportion of those people were not part of the group causing the problems. As a result we have apologised to them individually and will reimburse them for the cost of their match tickets."

Police went to the Railway Inn in Irlam, Greater Manchester, on Saturday November 15 and told the assembled band of Stoke fans that they would not be attending the match. The fans were issued with Section 27 orders - which allow police to move people on who pose a risk of alcohol-related disorder - and sent back to Staffordshire on two coaches.

The assistant chief constable said that the GMP would be reviewing its use of Section 27 of the Violent Crime Reduction Act.

She said: "Having listened to concerns that have been raised in relation to this incident I have also commissioned a review of our use of Section 27 direction to leave in order to ensure that we utilise it only when it is necessary and appropriate."

Michael Brunskill from the Football Supporters' Federation said: "We're pleased that the GMP have acknowledged that their use of Section 27 was unjust and we hope that they compensate the fans and wipe clean any records they have on the matter." He continued: "The Stoke fans we've spoken to were not going to cause any trouble whatsoever - the pub landlord has said he was happy with their behaviour and he would welcome them back."

Mr Brunskill added that his organisation was hoping to take the matter to judicial review.