Supporters of Manchester United protesting the club’s ownership surged onto the Old Trafford pitch two-plus hours before kickoff of the Red Devils’ match with Liverpool on Sunday (live coverage on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) and hours later the game was postponed.
It is the first time in Premier League history a game has been called off due to fan protests.
The match was expected to kickoff on time after initial protests, though reports soon emerged of protestors also blocking the buses at the team hotels and a second group of fans entered the ground and were later ushered out.
Violent scenes were then sparked outside the ground as police pushed protestors back from the stadium and although the crowds dispersed, the game was called off. It is believed the pitch was damaged by fans, while there were also safety concerns over getting the teams to the stadium.
The Premier League have now issued a statement confirming the game has been postponed, and here it is below in full.
Statement on Manchester United – Liverpool postponed
“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 sympathize 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 released a similar statement, adding the following.
“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.”
What is the current situation?
Players are stuck inside their hotel rooms in central Manchester under police guard, and Manchester United, Liverpool and the Premier League will now work together to try and squeeze this game in and reschedule it before the end of the season.
The first invasion happened just after 9am ET, and some were holding the green-and-gold of Newton Heath in protest of the Glazer family, an uneasy relationship between fans and ownership ratcheted up by United’s inclusion in the failed European Super League plot just 10 days ago.
One fan climbed atop a goal, another spit in the 18, and another took a camera tripod and threw it onto the grass in just a few examples of the unrest at Old Trafford prior to the latest edition of a fierce rivalry.
The fans left within minutes, but not before walking toward the Sky Sports TV set where Roy Keane was preparing to broadcast, while Arlo White narrated the video as NBCSN went split screen between Newcastle – Arsenal and the orchestrated protests.
The match was originally scheduled for an 11:30am ET kickoff and a Liverpool win would have sealed Manchester City’s third Premier League title in four years.
Fans have not been allowed at matches for almost the entirety of this season and there are certainly health concerns on top of the safety concerns caused by the fans.
Here are more videos and photos from around Old Trafford.
Clashes outside Old Trafford pic.twitter.com/b863ZGYdJV
— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) May 2, 2021
Manchester United fans have clashed with police outside Old Trafford during protests against the club's owners.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) May 2, 2021