The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police has apologised for any upset caused by his statement that Liverpool fans' behaviour made policing at the Hillsborough tragedy "harder than it needed to be".
Sir Norman Bettison said his role was never to "besmirch" the fans and said the Reds' supporters were in no way to blame for the disaster.
The chief constable said he was "deeply sorry that impression and slight has lingered for 23 years".
In a statement, Sir Norman said: "Let me speak very clearly. The fans of Liverpool Football Club were in no way to blame for the disaster that unfolded at Hillsborough on 15 April 1989.
"I formed this clear view on hearing all the evidence that was presented at the Taylor inquiry, having sat through every day from its beginning, just four weeks after the tragedy, through to its conclusion.
"The evidence was overwhelming. The police failed to control the situation, which ultimately led to the tragic deaths of 96 entirely innocent people.
"I can be no plainer than that and I am sorry if my earlier statement, intended to convey the same message, has caused any further upset.
"My role was never to besmirch the fans. I did not do that.
"I am deeply sorry that impression and slight has lingered for 23 years."