10 OCTOBER 1998, Page 32

Red devilry

Sir: Robert Hardman should be aware that Her Majesty has been badly advised in asso- ciating herself, however tenuously, with Manchester United ('More signings for Ma'am United', 3 October). It is alleged that 15 per cent of the followers of association football in England support 'Man U', but although this level of support may appear impressive, it disguises the fact that the remaining 85 per cent of supporters loathe them with a passion which is almost palpable.

It has been suggested that if 'Man U' were playing a team from the planet Mars with the future of the world as the prize, all of the above-mentioned 85 per cent would be at the Martian end of the stadium. I am astounded that Robin Cook and the For- eign Office could have allowed such an ele- mentary blunder to occur, particularly as New Labour prides itself on its empathy with the 'People's Game'.

Peter Ellis

9 Walton Street, Oxford