Dublin: 20°C Wednesday 4 August 2021
Advertisement

Manchester United-Liverpool postponed after fans storm Old Trafford pitch

Flares were let off by protestors inside the ground, where corner flags were held aloft and one supporter was seen throwing a tripod from the interview zone.

Updated May 2nd 2021, 6:15 PM

MANCHESTER UNITED FANS dramatically broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch in protest against the Glazer family, resulting in their Premier League match against Liverpool being postponed.

Police subsequently launched an investigation after an officer was left needing emergency hospital treatment.

Around 100 supporters broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch during the demonstration, forcing some United staff to lock themselves in rooms.

Outside the ground, bottles and barriers were thrown at police officers and horses. Two officers were injured, with one “attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment”, Greater Manchester Police said.

GMP assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said it was clear many demonstrators had no intention of protesting peacefully as he condemned their “reckless and dangerous” behaviour.

GMP said in a statement: “Protesters outside Old Trafford became especially aggressive and antagonistic towards police before a group of about 100 forced entry to the ground, with some United staff having to lock themselves in rooms.

“Those in the stadium were evicted by officers, but outside on the forecourt hostility grew, with bottles and barriers being thrown at officers and horses. Two officers have been injured with one officer being attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment.

“With the situation increasing in hostility, additional officers had to be deployed and officers had to be drawn in from neighbouring forces to assist Greater Manchester officers.”

Assistant chief constable Jackson said: “We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest. Plans were in place to ensure this could happen safely, but it soon became clear that many present had no intention of doing so peacefully.

“The actions of those today required us to take officers from front-line policing and call in support from neighbouring forces to prevent the disorder getting worse. At different points, bottles and barriers were thrown, officers assaulted and people scaled the stadium structure creating risk for themselves and officers.

“We have launched an investigation and we will be working closely alongside partners to ensure we establish the full circumstances surrounding today’s events and prosecute those responsible.”

The Red Devils were among 12 clubs that last month signed up for the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.

Those plans brought anger against the already despised Glazer family to a new level, with fans congregating at Old Trafford to demand change ahead of Sunday’s Premier League match against rivals Liverpool. 

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford Source: PA

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford

But hundreds of supporters got into the stadium and on to the pitch, leading to an initial unspecified delay to the 1630 kick-off.

The Premier League said that “the safety of everyone at Old Trafford is paramount” and confirmation came through from United at 1735 that the match had been postponed.

“Following discussion between the Police, the Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today,” a club statement read.

“Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.

“Our fans are passionate about Manchester United, and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest.

“However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger.

“We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.”

The Premier League confirmed the collective decision to call off the game was taken with security and safety in mind.​

“We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches,” a statement from the league said.

“Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.

“We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football. The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.”

Liverpool – another founding member of the Super League – said they were in “full agreement with the decision to postpone” Sunday’s match at Old Trafford.

“It is our position that public safety must be the number one factor in any such decision, with the ability to provide a secure environment for the participants, staff and officials being a particular priority,” the Anfield club said.

“It was clearly not possible for this to be guaranteed today due to a situation which escalated rapidly.”

Flares were let off by protestors inside the ground, where corner flags were held aloft and one supporter was seen throwing a tripod from the interview zone.

Former United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports News: “There’s huge discontent. They’re basically saying enough is enough.

“The Glazer family have been resilient and stubborn for many years. I think they’re struggling for many, many years to meet the financial demands this club needs and have done for some time.

“This stadium, if you go behind the scenes, is rusty and rotting. The training ground is probably not even in the top five in this country.

“They haven’t got to a Champions League semi-final for 10 years and haven’t won the league for eight. The land around the ground is undeveloped, dormant and derelict when every other club seems to be developing their facilities and their fan experiences.

“The Glazer family are struggling to meet the financial requirements and the fans are saying the time is up.

They’re going to make a fortune if they sell this football club. If they were to put it up for sale now I think the time would be right and it’d be the honourable thing to do.

The PA news agency understands a meeting has taken place to establish what happened, with the pitch damaged by the protestors and Covid-19 protocols to consider.

Fans congregated from around 1pm outside the trinity statue on the Old Trafford forecourt as another group took their protests to the Lowry hotel, where the United team were staying ahead of the game.

Hundreds outside Old Trafford became thousands by the time the protest got underway at 2pm, when two firecrackers were let off and fans began to march towards the Munich Tunnel.

Be part
of the team

Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership.

Become a Member

Red fences put in front of the East Stand did not last long, being quickly toppled as stewards were overawed and chanting supporters made their way towards the tunnel.

Footage soon emerged of hundreds of fans on the pitch, with a bunch exiting by jumping down to the nearby canal paths and others running out through the main gates at around 2.30pm.

An hour later another small batch of protestors were seen leaving the stadium. There was no sign of the teams at the ground but the line-ups were announced by the Premier League at 3.30pm.

One of the fans who made it on to the pitch, who gave his name only as Ryan, told the PA news agency: “The protest went better than expected.

“The whole idea of the protest was to cause disruption and I believe that’s what’s been achieved. The atmosphere was unreal, I myself have spent my life idolising this club and to watch how the Glazers have used the club has angered and disappointed me.

“The scenes on the pitch were unreal, we achieved what we needed to and took it further by making it on to the pitch. Do I agree with causing damage? Absolutely not, but what do Manchester United really expect, they have been told for years.”

Another supporter Elliot Brady, 23, told PA: “Best protest you will see at any ground and makes me proud to be a part of it.

“Yeah, we made it on to the pitch, made me feel honoured to be there. Glazers have to sell and return the club back to the fans.”

 

 

 

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford Source: PA

manchester-united-fan-protest-old-trafford

 

About the author:

Press Association

Read next:

COMMENTS (147)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel