<
>

Man United vs. Liverpool postponed after anti-Glazer protests on pitch at Old Trafford

play
Ogden: Glazers won't sell Manchester United despite protests (2:02)

Mark Ogden explains how the Glazer family's ownership is keeping Manchester United from being as successful as their rivals at Manchester City. (2:02)

Sunday's Premier League clash between Manchester United and Liverpool has been postponed after United fans invaded the Old Trafford pitch in a demonstration against the team owners, the Glazer family.

A statement from United confirmed the news and attributed the decision to "safety and security considerations," saying it came following discussions with police, the Premier League and the local council. A revised date for the game has yet to be confirmed.

- Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (U.S. only)
- How fan revolt helped bring down the Super League
- In pictures: Man United protest against Glazer ownership

The statement added: "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 also issued a statement, which read: "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."

The protests started with around 1,000 supporters outside the Lowry Hotel, where the United team were staying. Meanwhile, two police vans were positioned at the gates of Old Trafford used by the team coaches from early Sunday morning.

While the protest had been planned and was largely peaceful, it descended into chaos as fans infiltrated the stadium.

Fans started gathering on the forecourt at Old Trafford at around noon BST/8 a.m. ET. An hour later, a large group broke the fencing around the stadium and moved the protest toward the Munich Tunnel underneath the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand.

A large crowd of fans also gathered outside the ground, letting off green and gold flares -- the colours of United's shirts when they were formed as Newton Heath.

Police moved in to try to clear the areas outside the stadium and there were some isolated incidents with bottles and barriers being thrown.

The game was originally planned to kick off at 4.30 p.m. BST/11.30 a.m. ET.

Liverpool released a statement saying they were in "full agreement" with the decision to call the game off.

play
1:37

Why Manchester United fans are fed up with the Glazers

Jon Champion says the reasons behind Man United fans protesting the Glazer ownership go far beyond the pitch.

"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 read.

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

Greater Manchester Police also released a statement and confirmed that two officers had been injured and another required emergency hospital treatment after being attacked with a bottle.

"The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous," chief constable Russ Jackson said

"We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest. Plans were in place to ensure this could happen safely, but it soon became clear that many present had no intention of doing so peacefully.

"The actions of those today required us to take officers from front line policing and call in support from neighbouring forces to prevent the disorder getting worse. At different points, bottles and barriers were thrown, officers assaulted and people scaled the stadium structure creating risk for themselves and officers

"We have launched an investigation and we will be working closely alongside partners to ensure we establish the full circumstances surrounding today's events and prosecute those responsible."

The anti-Glazer movement has gained momentum in recent weeks following the club's failed attempt to form part of a breakaway European Super League (ESL).

United owner Joel Glazer, who was named the European Super League's vice-chairman when it was announced two weeks ago, apologised to the fans in an open letter after they withdrew from the project.

However, days later, a group of fans demonstrated at United's training ground, and last week saw supporters' group MUST write to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who announced in the aftermath of the Super League withdrawal that he will leave his role at the end of the year.

On Friday, Woodward spoke at a fans' forum and said the club does not plan to revive the ESL proposal.

The club was bought by the American Glazer family for £790 million ($1.1 billion) in 2005.

Supporters have never accepted the Glazers due to their leveraged takeover in 2005, which plunged United into debt (net debt stood at £301.7m in the last quarterly figures) and, as reported by The Guardian in October 2018, their ownership has led to more than £1 billion being drained out of the club in interest charges.

Although it has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, the Glazers retain majority ownership. The Glazer family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Information from Reuters and ESPN correspondent Mark Ogden was included in this report.