Sunday’s Premier League clash between Manchester United and Liverpool has been postponed after United fans invaded the Old Trafford pitch in a demonstration against the team owners, the Glazer family.
A statement from United confirmed the news and attributed the decision to “safety and security considerations,” saying it came following discussions with police, the Premier League and the local council. A revised date for the game is yet to be confirmed.
The statement added: “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 also issued a statement, which 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.”
The protests started at the team hotel with around 1,000 supporters outside the Lowry Hotel, where the United team were staying. Meanwhile, two police vans were positioned at the gates of Old Trafford used by the team coaches from early Sunday morning.
Fans started gathering on the forecourt at Old Trafford at around 12 p.m. BST/8 a.m. ET. An hour later, a large group broke the fencing around the stadium and moved the protest toward the Munich Tunnel underneath the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand.
The game was originally planned to kick off at 4.30 p.m. BST/11.30 a.m. ET.
The anti-Glazer movement has gained momentum in recent weeks following the club’s failed attempt to form part of a breakaway European Super League (ESL).
United owner Joel Glazer, who was named the European Super League’s vice-chairman when it was announced two weeks ago, apologised to the fans in an open letter after they withdrew from the project.
However, days later, a group of fans demonstrated at United’s training ground and last week saw supporters’ group MUST write to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who announced in the aftermath of the Super League withdrawal that he will leave his role at the end of the year.
On Friday, Woodward spoke at a fans’ forum and said the club does not plan to revive the ESL proposal.
The club was bought by the American Glazer family for £790 million ($1.1 billion) in 2005.
Supporters have never accepted the Glazers due to their leveraged takeover in 2005, which plunged United into debt (net debt stood at £301.7m in the last quarterly figures) and, as reported by The Guardian in October 2018, their ownership has led to more than £1 billion being drained out of the club in interest charges.
Although it has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, the Glazers retain majority ownership. The Glazer family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Information from Reuters and ESPN correspondent Mark Ogden was included in this report.
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