After Manchester United fans broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch to protest the club’s American owners, Sunday’s match against Liverpool was postponed.
The protest was sparked after the Glazer family, who have held majority ownership control since 2005, enlisted Manchester United in the controversial European Super League. Manchester United, as well as five other Premier League clubs, soon reversed course amid significant blowback from fans. The Super League concept collapsed shortly after.
While Manchester United apologized for the decision to pursue a Super League place, some fans felt the Glazer family should be forced to sell the club. The Glazer family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the NFL. They purchased Manchester United in 2005 for $1.1 billion.
Ahead of Sunday’s match against Liverpool, hundreds of fans clashed with police outside the stadium, breaking through fencing to approach the stadium near the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand.
Another group of fans blocked the exits to The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, where United were staying. Then, hundreds of fans breached the stadium, running onto the field. According to the Daily Mail, those running onto the pitch chanted, “We want Glazers out.”
With fans on the field and some accessing the players’ tunnel at Old Trafford, coronavirus protocol concerns played a role in the game being postponed. The gate that was breached by fans had not been fixed, either, which could have led to further security breaches.
“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 Premier League said in a statement.
“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.”
Manchester United and Liverpool were two of the 12 teams included in the proposed European Super League, a breakaway competition from the current EUFA model. The Super League would have all-but guaranteed participation in a European competition for those clubs, based on popularity rather than merit.
“We are disgusted, embarrassed and angry at the owner’s actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League,” the Manchester United Supporters Trust said Friday at an emergency fan forum meeting. “Once again, this clearly demonstrates that the club’s owners are only interested in maximising their own profits and do not care about or respect the views of Manchester United fans.”
Fan representatives made it clear they did not accept an apology from Manchester United’s co-chairman, Joel Glazer, and are pushing for change. Some have proposed the “50+1” rule used in German soccer, which guarantees fans have a majority stake in their club.