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.
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.”
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”