Police officers injured as angry Manchester United fans storm Old Trafford during protest

2 May 2021, 14:45 | Updated: 2 May 2021, 22:21

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Two police officers have been injured after Manchester United fans protesting against the club's ownership stormed the pitch at Old Trafford.

The supporters got into the stadium ahead of the Premier League match against Liverpool, which has now been postponed.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said fans "became especially aggressive and antagonistic towards police" before "a group of about 100 forced entry".

READ MORE: All six English clubs set for European Super League have withdrawn after fan protests

READ MORE: Major review into English football will look at giving fans a greater say

Police removed those inside the ground but "outside hostility grew with bottles and barriers being thrown at officers and horses", the force said.

It added: "Two officers have been injured with one officer being attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment."

Protesters have stormed Old Trafford prior to Manchester United's match against Liverpool
Protesters have stormed Old Trafford prior to Manchester United's match against Liverpool. Picture: PA

GMP assistant chief constable Russ Jackson condemned the behaviour at Old Trafford and a separate protest at The Lowry Hotel in Salford, where the United players were staying, as "reckless and dangerous".

He said: "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."

United supporters were expressing their anger following plans backed by the Glazer family to join a proposed European Super League, which collapsed soon after.

The plans added to years of discontent and protests from supporters following the controversial takeover by the Glazers in 2005.

The match was initially delayed but Manchester United later confirmed it had been postponed amid safety concerns.

Large numbers of supporters have been protesting before Sunday's game against Liverpool
Large numbers of supporters have been protesting before Sunday's game against Liverpool. Picture: PA

The club said in a statement: "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."

A protest had been planned outside the ground at 2pm, with fans congregating at least an hour before.

It is believed those who gained access to the ground did so via the Munich Tunnel, after pushing down barriers.

A large number of fans ran back out of the stadium complex at around 2.20pm.

Fans break through the barriers outside Old Trafford before storming the stadium
Fans break through the barriers outside Old Trafford before storming the stadium. Picture: PA

The so-called Big Six English football clubs - Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham - withdrew from the controversial European Super League within days of it being announced, following widespread outrage and government threats of legislative action.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared it was "the right result for football fans" as he welcomed the decision of the clubs to pull out last month.

Years of discontent among United supporters has followed the controversial takeover by the Glazers in 2005
Years of discontent among United supporters has followed the controversial takeover by the Glazers in 2005. Picture: PA

Spanish teams Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid, and Italian sides AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, were also set to be part of the competition.

However the competition's founder, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli, has now admitted the plans can longer go ahead.

A Liverpool win at Old Trafford would have handed the Premier League title to United's neighbours, Manchester City.