KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford was postponed, an hour beyond its scheduled afternoon kickoff, after fans, angry with the owning Glazer family, broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch.
Fuel about the Glazers’ plotting with the Super League fiasco was poured on long-existing anger over the owners stewardship of the club.
A first invasion saw more than 200 hooligans push down over exterior barriers and rush past security guards more than two hours before kickoff. Some then left the ground before more fans forced their way into the stadium. Flares were thrown inside the ground, corner flags were removed, some seats and camera equipment were damaged.
Six policemen were injured in trying to control the outburst. One needed emergency surgery for a gashed neck.
At one point the Premier League said the match would still go ahead after the ground had been secured and searched for protesters who might have hidden inside Old Trafford.
However the teams were still then being held back in their hotels from which they never emerged before the postponement was confirmed.
A United statement said: “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.
“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.”
Both clubs and the Premier League had been reluctant to concede to fan pressure but the postponement became inevitable as thousands of protesters continued to mill outside the ground.
The players were also believed to be doubtful about carrying on with the match because of uncertainty about whether some protesters remained inside the stadium.
The Premier League said: “After the security breach at Old Trafford we can confirm the Manchester United v Liverpool match will not kick-off at 16:30. The safety of everyone at Old Trafford is paramount. 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.”
As news of the protest had spread, several thousand fans gathered outside the ground and the team hotel, chanting protests against the Glazers.
The demonstration was an explosion of the supporter unrest sparked by the Glazers’ vain attempt to take the club into the controversial Super League.
United co-owner Joel Glazer had been appointed a vice-chairman of the operation shut down after only three days after political, fan and establishment opposition.
Former United defender Gary Neville, a Sky analyst, said: “This is the consequence of the owners’ actions.
“The Glazer family and some other club owners country were scheming behind everyone’s back to walk away with the crown jewels. Today we’ve seen people protest at that.”