Man United’s game off after fans storm stadium in protest
MANCHESTER, England (AP):
Anti-ownership protests by Manchester United fans forced the postponement of yesterday's Premier League game against Liverpool as supporters stormed the stadium and reached the pitch, while thousands of others gathered outside Old Trafford to demand the Glazer family ownership sell the club.
Long-running anger against the American owners has boiled over after they were part of the failed attempt to take United into a European Super League. Supporters have been kept out of games due to the coronavirus pandemic.
United and Liverpool players were unable to travel to the stadium, where there were brief clashes between fans and the police under a shower of glass bottles as flares were sent off.
Although the crowds were later dispersed around the time the game was due to start, United said the game was postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest" after discussions with police, authorities and the league.
"Our fans are passionate about Manchester United, and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest," United said in a statement. "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, which was yet to announce a new date for the match, expressed concern about the disorder.
"The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance," the Premier League said in a statement. "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 Glazers, who also own the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have declined to engage with fans since buying United in 2005 in a leveraged takeover that loaded debt on to the club.
"Get out of our club," fans chanted as flares were set off. "We want Glazers out."
Fans found a way into the stadium and also climbed on to vantage points next to turnstile entrances.
Supporters wore green-and-gold scarves and also set off flares in the colours of the club's 1878 formation. More than 100 fans got inside the stadium, and some could be seen from windows waving down to protesters. Corner flags were held aloft and one supporter was seen throwing a tripod from the interview zone.