Man Utd protests: Gary Neville says club owners the Glazers to blame for fan protest

Man Utd vs Liverpool postponed on Sunday after United fans began protesting outside The Lowry hotel, where the team were preparing for their match against Liverpool; other protests at Old Trafford saw fans break into the stadium and reach the pitch

Old Trafford, Manchester United

Gary Neville says Manchester United owners, the Glazers, are to blame for Sunday's fan protests, and urged them to put the club up for sale.

On Sunday afternoon, Man Utd fans began protesting out The Lowry hotel, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team were preparing for their match against Liverpool.

Further protests then broke out at Old Trafford, which saw hundreds of fans break into the stadium and reach the pitch, before being escorted out by police.

It was confirmed on Sunday evening the match would be postponed and will be rescheduled in due course.

Sky Sports were at Old Trafford during the disruption, with Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher and their fellow pundits offering their thoughts as events unfolded...

Neville: Honourable thing to sell Man Utd

"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.

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"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.

The good thing about it is the fans have still got a voice. As long as it’s done peacefully and properly, I support the fans in their protest. There’s so many businesses where you can make money, why do you have to come and rip the life and the soul out of a club that’s got such history? If you want to make money, go and make it elsewhere. I understand it’s a business, but when you buy into a club like Man Utd, surely the fans have to be in that conversation as well.
Micah Richards on the Man Utd protests

"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.

"If you think about the club they picked up in 2004, it had the best stadium in the country, one of the best in Europe, it had the best training ground in this country, and probably one of the best in Europe.

"It had a team that was consistently getting to Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals regularly and winning the league every season or every other season.

"If you look at the club now, this stadium I know it looks great here but if you go behind the scenes it is rusting and rotten. If you look at the training ground it's probably not even the top five in this country, they haven't got to a Champions League semi-final for 10 years.

"We haven't won a league here at Manchester United for eight years. The land around the ground is undeveloped, dormant and derelict while every other club seems to be developing the facilities and the fan experience.

"All football fans should unite today behind what Manchester United fans have done today because what happened two weeks ago was really dangerous for English football.

Man Utd fan protests and postponement - A timeline

  • 1pm - Fans begin congregating outside the trinity statue on the Old Trafford forecourt, as another group starts to protest at the Lowry Hotel, where the United team are staying ahead of the game.
  • 2pm - The numbers of protestors swell to thousands outside Old Trafford, with firecrackers being let off and a group of supporters beginning to march towards the Munich Tunnel.
  • 2.30pm - United fans breach security and invade the stadium, taking to the Old Trafford pitch. Flares are let off, firecrackers are thrown and one supporter is seen wielding one of the corner flags.
  • 3pm - The stadium is in lockdown. A sweep of the stadium is required and there is said to be damage to the pitch.
  • 3.30pm - Despite mounting uncertainty over the status of the match, the Premier League proceeds to publish the official team sheet one hour before the scheduled kick-off time.
  • 4.25pm - The Premier League issues a statement in which it confirms the match will not kick off at its scheduled start time, adding: "At present there is no revised kick-off time."
  • 5.40pm - Officials confirm the game will be postponed.
  • 5.50pm - The Premier League calls the postponement "a collective decision", saying there was "no justification" for the acts of criminal damage and trespass. Liverpool issue a statement saying they are "in full agreement" with the postponement.

"Today there is anger. I would hope that tomorrow it switches towards mobilisation towards reform, regulation and behind the fan-led review.

"Maybe I'm being naïve, but Manchester United and Liverpool should be acting like the Grandfathers of English football, demonstrating compassion, spreading their wealth through the family and being fair. But they've demonstrated self greed and tried to walk away with all the money themselves, letting the family struggle below. That's not what you do at these clubs. An apology is not good enough.

"The Glazers say they want to rebuild the trust but they never had the trust of the supporters. He's never communicated to them. He's never said a word. The fans have protested peacefully and it's every person's right. There are six or seven people within English football who have it in their control, and that control has to be taken away from them."

Neville: The fans have spoken

"I think it's a warning to the owners of the football club that ultimately they're not going to accept what they've done in the last couple of weeks, that's the first thing.

"The second is we don't quite know what's happened outside the ground. We know some fans came in and they were reasonably peaceful, but if there have been disturbances outside, then that's not something I think is acceptable.

"But the reality of it is, a game has been called off today and the fans have spoken.

"It's not going to go away because I don't think they trust the owners of this club, they don't like them and they think they should leave.

Premier League statement after Man Utd vs Liverpool postponement

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.

"Beyond today, it should be about reform and regulation and making sure they can't do it again. Protesting is the right of every single person in this country, however, beyond today, it's about making sure fans across the country unite to make sure that there is reform in English football. That's the most important thing.

"Today will be a waste of time if there isn't reform in English football.

"The Liverpool team bus would've had to travel through the streets of Manchester to get here, and could the police have guaranteed the safety of Jurgen Klopp and the Liverpool staff and players with what could happen with a few people who were in the mood to throw things? I'd say no and you have to err on the side of safety. The rivalry between these two clubs is huge but there is a line.

"The reality is that what happened two weeks ago has ignited the United fan base into life again. It's brought them back to life. Fifteen years ago, there were a lot of fans who were upset, and every one I speak to are absolutely disgusted by what happened a fortnight ago. United were leading this thing, as were Liverpool, two weeks ago. They are the biggest clubs in this country."

Neville: ESL would have created football famine

"We cannot forget what they did two weeks ago, which was really dangerous for English football. They tried to walk away and create a closed shop league that would've created a famine in this country for every other football club.

"They tried to create a famine two weeks ago in English football, in Dutch football, in French football... all over Europe. Those 15 clubs would've walked away from Europe with all that money and would've destroyed the ethos of the pyramid of relegation and promotion. That's number one and it's unforgivable what they did.

"The Glazer family tried to implement something two weeks ago which would've damaged every single community in this country that's got football at the heart of it - and that's why they're dangerous. They are dangerous to the concept of fair play and equal opportunity in football.

"You can't force someone to sell a football club and the Glazer family have proven before that they are stubborn and resilient.

"But the time has come now, and they are going to make a fortune out of the club, to put it up for sale.

"There is a danger that the people who buy it won't treat it as well but l think it [selling] is the right thing to do."

Carragher: This is about more than the Super League

"The biggest demonstrations we have seen are here at Old Trafford and at Arsenal. We keep talking about the Super League and the six clubs. There is no doubt that the feelings towards the owners among Manchester United and Arsenal fans is much bigger than the Super League.

"The reason they are protesting so much at Manchester United is not just because of the Super League. This goes back to when they came in and they were charging season ticket holders and taking money out of their bank if they did not want to go to a Carling Cup game or maybe a Europa League game, they were just taking money off fans.

"This is one of the richest clubs in the world, maybe still is. But the success of Manchester United is paying their mortgage on Manchester United when they were not in that situation before they took over.

View from the protesting fans

One of the fans who made it on to the pitch, who gave his name only as Ryan, told the Press Association: "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, said: "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."

"So I get the frustration of Manchester United fans and Arsenal fans, I think that is why we are seeing these demonstrations. It is bigger than the Super League for these fans.

"Every football fan should stand with them. We don't want to see games called off. Nobody wants to see that. But fans are frustrated with the ownership of their own clubs. Supporters coming together is powerful.

"I can't stand here and criticise Man Utd supporters. My own supporters at Liverpool were doing the same thing 10 or 15 years ago with marches outside the stadiums to get rid of Hicks and Gillett and they [Man Utd fans] want these people out of the club.

"Whether it will happen, who knows… Football means a lot to people up and down this country and in Manchester as much as anywhere. It's a peaceful protest and the ownership only have themselves to blame."

Carragher: Fans should always be able to protest

"We can only speak about what we saw inside Old Trafford. Do you want to see supporters storming stadiums left, right and centre and games being called off? Absolutely not. I'm not someone who will stand here and criticise Manchester United fans for today because 'I'm Liverpool'.

"Two weeks ago, supporters came together for the first time. There will always be idiots but I actually think what the United supporters have done today is a good thing in protesting and being not happy about what's going on at the club. There will always be one or two people who take it a step too far. There's always someone who does something stupid. That shouldn't be what dominates the news.

"It's not about scoring points. I'm behind protesting about what's not right at your football club. We've lost a game of football game today, but we have to accept that. What the Glazers have done to the club over the last 10 or 15 years, the fans aren't happy. They should always be able to protest and in the main the supporters did so in the right way."

Keane: Just the start of United protests

"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.

Man Utd statement after postponement

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.

"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."

Analysis: Progressive movement or fan power gone crazy?

Sky Sports reporter James Cooper at Old Trafford speaking before the match postponed on Sunday evening:

"I think any idea of this just being a peaceful, progressive protest looking at ownership in football has gone to one side. This is about emotion, this is about passion and is a reminder of what we saw back in 2010 and that was another protest against the Glazer family as owners of Manchester United.

"Questions have to be asked about the security in place here at Old Trafford and how fans managed to get onto the pitch. I was told that a gate was opened and they managed to get in that way. Questions have to be asked that and whether in fact that's showing fans and the protest they wanted to put on here in the right light.

"There are hundreds, perhaps two or 3,000 United fans outside of Old Trafford right now making their feelings pretty clear and I don't think they're going anywhere. Their intention is to make sure that this game isn't played, and I'm told the match referee was initially turned away from one of the entrances [Michael Oliver has now entered the ground].

"Will the players be able to access the stadium? This was set up as a peaceful demonstration looking at fan ownership, talking about 50+1, but from about 3pm onwards the mood has changed very much. We've seen flares and fireworks and shouting. We've seen skirmishes and a big police presence. There are huge questions as to whether this game will go ahead.

"I'm told today was about fan power and getting a message over to a global audience, but you've got to work out whether this is a progressive move or whether it is just fan power gone crazy."

Neville: Where it went wrong for Man Utd

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Manchester United club owners Joel and Avram Glazer
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Manchester United club owners Joel and Avram Glazer

"When the Glazers came in there was a shift over a seven or eight year period where you were aware of this London and New York operation run by Ed Woodward and Richard Arnold that was incredibly successful in driving commercial revenue into the football club. That model has been revered all around the world. Let's say that for balance.

"But what you had on the other side was David Gill, Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane leading the team. It felt like that balance was there in the football club, there was that connection still there between the football club with the supporters, the players and the manager.

"The commercial side did not interfere with the football. It was run out of a different office, it was not at the training ground, it was not even at Old Trafford. There was that balance there.

"I think what happened is that when David Gill and Sir Alex Ferguson left, Ed Woodward took over the whole running of the club and he just did not have the ability to communicate with the football side of the club, the values, the principles. That is a real problem.

"That is where I have been most critical of the Glazers over the past seven or eight years. Just be clever. You are really good at doing that side of the club. You are brilliant at the commercial side, the selling side, and that has been important in terms of generating the revenues.

"But on the other side, put people in charge there who are best in class who can make sure that the club can communicate with the fans. They have lost the art of communication. You have to bring people on a journey with you.

"Roy communicated with the fans, Sir Alex communicated with the fans. They had people who they knew understood the club and loved the club. So the fans were OK with it to an extent even though they were not happy with the ownership. Since then that balance has shifted and that tipping point has come two weeks ago."

Souness: Protests will not impact Glazers

"I don't think it will [have an impact]. The Glazers, since Fergie retired, have given successive managers over a billion pounds to spend. I think it's born out of Man Utd not being the top dogs as much as what happened last week, that's another excuse to have a go at them.

"These are serious business people. I don't think this will impact on their thoughts one iota.

"They risked something to buy Man Utd. Since then, they've given successive managers riches to spend and it's only when Fergie stopped that the success stopped. I think that irritates the supporters and they [the Glazers] have become the focus of the anger. I think it's slightly misdirected.

"With what happened with the Super League, that certainly compounds their aggression and unhappiness towards them. But I would not be sticking Man Utd's lack of success down to the Glazers.

Liverpool statement after postponement

Liverpool Football Club was in full agreement with the decision to postpone today's fixture as a result of ongoing events at Old Trafford and the surrounding area.

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.

"There was no complaint when they were winning everything and they were in charge - well, there were some - but everything here is because they've dropped from being the No 1 team in the English football and I think that irritates the supporters.

"They've obviously made improvements. The stadium, the commercial department, the success they've had, which goes back through Fergie.

"In terms of what they think about the fans, I think they proved in trying to form a Super League - not a lot. What they're trying to say is we're taking the home base fans for granted, let's target Asia."

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