Football Man United protesters storm Old Trafford pitch, forcing game against Liverpool to be called off
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Man United protesters storm Old Trafford pitch, forcing game against Liverpool to be called off

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Protesters against the American owners of Manchester United stormed the Old Trafford pitch, forcing the postponement of a Premier League game against Liverpool.

Thousands of other fans also gathered outside Old Trafford on Sunday (local time) to demand the Glazer family ownership sell the club.

Anger at American owners

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 clashes briefly 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.

Supporters stormed into the stadium and onto the pitch ahead of Sunday’s game. The match was later called-off. Photo: AAP

Liverpool game postponed

“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.

“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,” said the statement.

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 onto the club.

“Get out of our club,” fans chanted as flares were set off. “We want Glazers out.”

Police on horseback clear fans

Fans found a way into the stadium and also climbed onto vantage points next to turnstile entrances.

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.

Police on horseback later cleared protesting fans from outside the stadium, with glass bottles being thrown in brief clashes. Some fans moved back to a main road near the stadium with police forming a line to stop them returning.

If United had lost the planned game, Manchester City would have won the Premier League title but will now have to wait.

-AAP