Manchester United vs Liverpool postponed after anti-Glazer fan protests at Old Trafford

The match was originally scheduled for a 4.30pm kick-off; Manchester United statement says 'discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture'; Greater Manchester Police say an officer was hospitalised with a 'significant slash wound' to his face

Fans hold up a banner as they protest against the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester. Issue date: Sunday May 2, 2021.
Image: Fans hold up a banner as they protest against the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester. Issue date: Sunday May 2, 2021.

Manchester United's Premier League game against Liverpool at Old Trafford has been postponed following protests against the Glazer family.

Hundreds of fans got into the stadium ahead of the behind-closed-doors contest, which was originally scheduled for a 4.30pm kick-off before being delayed and then called off completely.

Discussions are taking place around finding a new date for the fixture.

Two police officers were injured during Sunday's demonstrations, with one hospitalised after "sustaining a significant slash wound to his face", according to Greater Manchester Police.

A United statement read: "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."

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Liverpool said they were in "full agreement" with the decision to postpone and will continue to have dialogue with Manchester United, the Premier League and the local authorities to find a suitable date to reschedule.

"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," said a club statement.

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

The Premier League condemned all the "acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches" in a statement after the postponement was confirmed.

"The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance," a Premier League statement read.

"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."

Supporters also gathered outside the team's hotel - The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, where the United team were staying before the game - ahead of Sunday's match at Old Trafford.

Greater Manchester Police said they were "aware" the protests were due to take place and "were working closely alongside partners to ensure those that attended were kept safe whilst enabling their right to peaceful protest".

"By late afternoon around 200 protestors had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at Old Trafford," the police statement read.

"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."

Many United supporters are still angry and upset over their club's role as one of the founder members of the proposed breakaway European Super League.

The plans added to years of discontent and protests from supporters following the controversial takeover by the Glazers in 2005.

United owner Joel Glazer, unveiled as Super League vice-chairman when the announcement was made, apologised in an open letter to all the club's fans after they were forced to pull out of the plans.

However, that apology seems to have been rebuffed by the club's supporter base who protested outside Old Trafford last week which followed even more protesting at United's Carrington training ground.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust said the scenes at Old Trafford on Sunday is the "culmination of 16 years since the Glazer family's acquisition of the club.

"Over that period, the owners have taken £1bn out of the club and we have witnessed decay and decline both on the field and off it.

"While the invasion of the stadium isn't something we expected, and it is rumoured a gate was opened for fans, but even if that is not the case we believe the vast majority of Manchester United staff are sympathetic with the views of the fans.

"Supporters turned up on the day of a game they could not even attend, to peacefully protest and speak with one clear voice about the change that needs to happen at our club.

"On the back of the indefensible ESL proposals, and an "apology" from the Glazers which we do not accept, we need to give fans a meaningful share in the ownership of United and a meaningful voice in how it is run.

"The Government now needs to act. That has to mean a process which results in fans having the opportunity to buy shares in their club and more to the point no single private shareholder holding a majority ownership of our football clubs which allows them to abuse that ownership.

"The Government needs to reflect the views of ordinary people who see that now is the time to reclaim the people's game."

Neville: Owners to blame for protests

Sky Sports' Gary Neville:

"This is a consequence of the Manchester United owners' actions two weeks ago. There is a general distrust and dislike of the owners, but they weren't protesting two or three weeks ago.

"The Glazer family are struggling to meet the financial requirements at this club and the fans are saying that their time is up.

"My view is quite simply that they're going to make a fortune if they sell the club and if they were to put it up for sale now I think the time would be right, and it would be the honourable thing to do.

"There's huge discontent, not just across Manchester United fans, but I think for football fans up and down the country and I think they are just saying enough is enough.

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

Read Gary Neville's assessment and more from the Sky Sports pundits in full here

Keane: Just the start of United protests

Sky Sports' Roy Keane:

"I'm disappointed that the game's off because we're footballing people, but I think United fans have just had enough.

"They're doing it because they love the club and it's not what has happened over the last few weeks with the Super League, I think it's been building for a number of years now, that frustration, and they've come to the end and thought 'enough is enough'.

"It's been building up over the last few years - disappointment in communication, stuff going on in the backroom, tickets, whatever it might be. The leadership of the club has not been good enough, when they look at the owners and feel it's just about making money.

"The statement today is huge for the game to be called off.

"Sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice and this will go all over the world now and people will have to sit up and take note.

"Hopefully the owners of Man Utd will say 'these fans are deadly serious' and there's more to come. This is just the start of it for United fans, I guarantee you.

"What happens at the next home game, is it the same? This is just the start for United fans and their plan is for the United owners to give in and sell the club."

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