Today, thousands of supporters of the Football Lads Alliance (FLA) were expected to attend a rally at Castlefield in Manchester but in the event only around two hundred turned up from all over the North.
Meanwhile, in St Peter's Square, around eight hundred people attended an opposition rally, with speakers from anti-racist and anti-fascist movements, local councillors and trade union bodies.
"The FLA uses Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism as openly and explicitly as they can...it plays a central role in their world view and how they recruit and educate their members" said Mark Rowe, Regional Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) "They attack key opponents and key critics of them, and we see how viciously Diane Abbott is attacked by them.
"The FLA leadership goes to great efforts to hide its racist agenda, while its supporters are not so secretive" he added "All far right and fascist leaders claim they're not racist. They understand only too well that if they were to proclaim their true beliefs they would be cast into the political wilderness.
"There are clear links to Tommy Robinson and the EDL, we have to judge the organisation by the company it keeps" he explained "These people cannot be ignored. We've got to challenge them wherever they pedal their hate...If we ignore the far right populist and fascist movement they take root and their thoughts pollute the political climate.
"The first target in combating their hate is to expose their far right agenda and to warn the anti-racist movement, trade unions, community groups and faith groups of the danger they present" he said "Today as trade unionists, public, politicians and political groups we stand opposed to racism and fascism in all its forms. We simply must be vigilant, expose the FLA agenda and together we will defeat racism and fascism in this country."
After the rally, the Stand Up To Racism protesters marched to Castlefield, where they made their feelings known to the FLA through barriers and police cordons, before marching back to St Peter's Square, where speakers praised the demonstration, and urged even more protesters to turn out when the DFLA, a split from the FLA, come to Manchester on 2nd June.
For further details see the Facebook event page - click here