Manchester United v Liverpool postponed after fans storm Old Trafford amid protests against Glazer ownership

The Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Liverpool has been postponed after fans broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch in extraordinary scenes ahead of the game.

Fans turned up at Old Trafford at 1pm to protest against the Glazer ownership with banners and flares - however things soon escalated, as some protestors pushed down barriers to force their way into the ground and made their way onto the pitch ahead of one of the biggest games of the season.

Chants of "we want Glazers out" could be heard as they stormed into the ground.​  Goal  understands some fans attempted to get into the dressing rooms, as over a thousand supporters protested against the ownership.

What has been said?

A Manchester United club statement read: "Following discussion between 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. 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."

Liverpool also released a statement, saying they were "in full agreement" with the decision to postpone.

They said: "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. It was clearly not possible for this to be guaranteed today due to a situation which escalated rapidly.

"We will continue to have dialogue with Manchester United, the Premier League and the local authorities to find a suitable date to reschedule. As soon as we have this information we will update our supporters accordingly."

A statement from the Premier League read: "Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United vs Liverpool game has been postponed. This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.

"The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance. 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. 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."

What happened?

The protests were  spurred on by the failed proposals of the European Super League , with supporters showing their anger against the Glazer family and trying to push for the 50+1 fan ownership model seen in Germany. It was the first planned protest the fans have taken part in since the ESL debacle nearly two weeks ago. 

Footage then emerged on social media of some supporters on the pitch at Old Trafford, having broken into the stadium at around 2pm. Many of the fans carried flares and banners, chanted against the club's ownership, and some even kicked a football around on the pitch and sat on the goal nets.

The invaders were initially removed from the pitch and police were working to clear debris from the playing surface, with the kick-off initially scheduled for 4.30pm.

However, more fans subsequently broke back into the ground, and while they were also escorted out eventually, there was great doubt over whether the game could go ahead as 4.30pm came and went without kick-off, before an official statement was finally made over an hour after the expected start time.

Players and coaching staff were not at the stadium at the time, and were advised to remain at their team hotels with the game in doubt. Some club staff and media were being held in a car park while a decision is made.

Goal understands Liverpool's players and staff were able to leave their hotel and head home around 6pm, however Man Utd's squad had to remain indoors for safety.

A lengthy statement from Greater Manchester Police gave insight into the events of Sunday afternoon.

They said: "Early this afternoon, groups of protestors began to gather at Old Trafford and separately at The Lowry Hotel, Salford where the United players were staying. By late afternoon around 200 protestors had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at Old Trafford.

"Officers continued to closely monitor the situation, engaging with those present but as the groups grew in size; it became clear that many of those present were not intending to exercise their right to peaceful protest. Flares were let off and bottles thrown at officers.

"Protestors 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.

"Following discussion with The Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, a joint decision was made to postpone the match for safety reasons.

GMP Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said: "The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous.

"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.

"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."

Why are they protesting?

Manchester United fans have been opposed to the Glazer ownership since the American family bought the club in 2005.

They bought the club through a leveraged buyout for around £790 million ($1.1 billion). The money for the buyout was funded by debt that they would pay off from the club’s future profits. Since then the club have already paid out over £1 billion (€1.4bn) in bank fees and dividends to the owners.

While there have been protests over the years they have ramped up again recently due to the club’s involvement in the proposal of the ESL.

Joel Glazer was one of the driving forces behind the now botched plans and it has reignited anger amongst the supporters who want the family to sell their shares in the club. 

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