Britain Soccer Premier League
Fans make their way past barriers outside the ground as they let off flares while protesting against the Glazer family, owners of Manchester United, before their Premier League match against Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester, England, on Sunday. Photo: Barrington Coombs/PA via AP
soccer

Man United fans storm stadium, forcing game to be called off

27 Comments
By ROB HARRIS

Anti-ownership protests by Manchester United fans forced the postponement of a Premier League game on Sunday against Liverpool after the stadium was stormed and thousands more supporters blocked access into Old Trafford as they demanded the Glazer family sell the club.

The unprecedented cancelation of a game in the world's richest soccer league due to fan protests is the culmination of long-running anger against the American owners that began with a 2005 leveraged takeover that loaded debt onto the club. But the wrath of supporters has boiled over in the two weeks since the New York Stock Exchange listed club was part of the failed European Super League breakaway that collapsed amid a groundswell of condemnation.

Supporters gaining access to the pitch — before the two teams even traveled to Old Trafford — was even more startling given the strict coronavirus measures in place around the stadium that keep games closed to any spectators. One of the flares set off by fans was launched into the stands where the Sky Sports television team was already broadcasting more than two hours ahead of the scheduled kickoff.

Although the protest had been announced in advance, the stadium forecourt on Sir Matt Busby Way was still able to be accessed by thousands of fans — many chanting “We want Glazers out" as flares were set off.

The crowd was only dispersed after baton-wielding police and officers on horseback charged fans as clashes erupted under a shower of flying glass bottles about 20 minutes before the game was due to have started. Two police officers were injured and one required emergency treatment for a “significant slash wound to his face” after being attacked with a bottle, the Manchester force said.

United said the game was postponed “due to safety and security considerations around the protest” after discussions with police, authorities and the league.

“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 has yet to announce a new date for the match, expressed concern about the disorder. Protesters had also gathered outside the United team hotel in central Manchester.

“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance,” the Premier League said in a statement. "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.”

Supporters wore green-and-gold scarves and also set off flares in the colors of the club’s 1878 formation. It was a club without any debt until the Glazers arrived and the latest half-year accounts showed it had soared 16% year-on-year to 455.5 million pounds (around $630 million). Payments on interest, debt and dividends to the Glazers have cost United more than 1 billion pounds.

The Glazers, who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have declined to engage with fans or media since buying United in 2005.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who was inside Old Trafford preparing to commentate on the game for Sky Sports, called on the Glazers to put the club up for sale.

“There’s huge discontent, not just across Manchester United fans, but I think for football fans up and down the country and I think they are just saying enough is enough,” Neville said. “The Glazer family have been resilient and stubborn for many, many years. I think they are struggling to meet the financial demands that this club needs and have done for some time.

“This stadium, if you go behind the scenes, is rusty and rotting. The training ground is probably not even in the top five in this country."

Although co-owner Joel Glazer pledged on the club website two weeks ago that he was “committed to rebuilding trust with our fans,” there is no sign of that happening yet.

“They have never met the fans once,” 33-year-old fan Jack Evans said. “It’s time for them to go.”

United and Liverpool were among six Premier League clubs that tried to form an exclusive European Super League along with three clubs each from Spain and Italy. Widespread opposition quickly ended the project, with all six English teams backing out within 48 hours of the announcement.

The “Big Six” clubs have been in damage control since, offering various forms of apologies and statements of regret, while fans long frustrated with billionaire owners have called for wholesale changes.

“This could be an important moment to change football for the better," Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said. "We should all condemn violence of any kind and keep the focus on the behavior of those at the top of the game.”

United fans' protests against the Glazers have been sporadic as United became the record 20-time champions of England. While they erupted in 2010, the dissent lessened as Alex Ferguson delivered more trophies.

But the last Premier League title was won as he retired in 2013 and since then neighbor Manchester City has become the dominant force in England — funded by an owner in Sheikh Mansour who is concerned about prestige and image for Abu Dhabi rather than draining cash from the club.

If United had lost the planned game against Liverpool, City would have won the Premier League title for the third time in four seasons.

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


27 Comments
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The Glazers, who also own the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have declined to engage with fans or media since buying United in 2005.

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, who was inside Old Trafford preparing to commentate on the game for Sky Sports, called on the Glazers to put the club up for sale.

“There’s huge discontent, not just across Manchester United fans, but I think for football fans up and down the country and I think they are just saying enough is enough,” Neville said. “The Glazer family have been resilient and stubborn for many, many years. I think they are struggling to meet the financial demands that this club needs and have done for some time.

“This stadium, if you go behind the scenes, is rusty and rotting. The training ground is probably not even in the top five in this country."

This part sums it all about the Glazers. You can ask any Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans from before the awarding of the last Super Bowl in Tampa and before the signing of Tom Brady, and those fans would tell you about how despicable the Glazers are as owners. They are cheapskates and being despicably greedy people with no iota of genuine respect for the best traditions of sports. If they think people will let them off the hook when they live in their ivory tower and grab money from the masses without a response, they are mistaken.

After the mess that was the ESL, I only hope that the British government will push towards a legislation that requires 50%+1 of the shares of the club to belong to season ticket holders like in Germany. Football is the people's game, and fans are right to demand respect.

Bar a few idiots going overboard, the protest was necessary to bring worldwide attention upon the real problem at Manchester United and in other football clubs. I'm glad that the game was postponed to show how much power fans still have over clubs. The Glazers deserve to be humiliated as they are today. #GlazersOut

5 ( +7 / -2 )

They just wanted to clockblock their noisy neighbors being crowned champions.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Needs a club revolution with fans owning 51%, just like in Germany. This will probably be Liverpool's final game of the season.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

A load of cockney glory hunters complaining about football losing its soul?

Even before the Glazers United were a corporate entity with prawn sandwich eating fans.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

carpslidy

A load of cockney glory hunters complaining about football losing its soul?

Even before the Glazers United were a corporate entity with prawn sandwich eating fans.

You do know, Cockney's are those born in East London within the sound of Bow Bells and not those born in Manchester?

11 ( +13 / -2 )

Thugs like these need to be dealt with by a dedicated squad of properly armed and protected riot police which the UK doesn't have. The French are far better at this.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

@zichi of course I know that.

I guess you're not familiar with the chant "you just a bunch of cockneys' directed at man u away fans. (Or at least it was in the 1990's ) maybe things are different now,

Anyway I know more about the j-league nowadays that the premier league so maybe I should be ignored.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

carpslidy

@zichi of course I know that.

I guess you're not familiar with the chant "you just a bunch of cockneys' directed at man u away fans. (Or at least it was in the 1990's ) maybe things are different now,

Fierce competition between us and Man U, probably the strongest in the whole league. Never heard that chant before?

We are just one of those teams that you see now and then,

We often score six, but we seldom score ten,

We beat 'em at home and we beat 'em away,

We kill any b*stards,

That get in our way,

We are the pride of all Europe,

The cock of the North,

We hate the Scousers, the Cockneys of course (and Leeds),

We are United, without any doubt,

We are the Manchester boys...

Anyway I know more about the j-league nowadays than the premier league so maybe I should be ignored.

No you should not be ignored.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

A load of cockney glory hunters complaining about football losing its soul?

Even before the Glazers United were a corporate entity with prawn sandwich eating fans.

They’ve always had that at least as long as I’ve been watching them. That said, they’ve also had a hardcore of real supporters. I can remember Everton beating them at Goodison in the the late 80s and the Man U fans staying to the end abusing Alex Ferguson.

Roy Keane’s prawn sandwich quote was about Old Trafford sounding like a library if they weren’t hitting the heights.

So, this was a clear and powerful message from Man U supporters. Are there any billionaires out there who can match City’s sheiks?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

The Reds have a valuation of £3.05bn, which sees them ranked as the fourth most valuable club in the world.

Sell 51% to the fans. 100 million-plus fans. Works out at about £15 per share per fan. Less than the price of a ticket for a game.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Domestic terrorism.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Domestic terrorism is was not. It was a protest with a small number going too far.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

its man u who are the noisy neighbours now. lot of noise, generally little substance though to be fair they seem to be doing great in the PL this season.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hooligans gonna hooligan.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

That’s what you get for selling a footy team to an American.

also, please don’t copy and paste large chunks of the story. We read it the first time.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

How can people get so passionate about a ball being kicked around. Stop. Just kidding

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I was always opposed to foreign ownership of the English clubs. Give them to the fans.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Even before the Glazers United were a corporate entity with prawn sandwich eating fans.

Chelsea opened a sushi bar in their ground

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you need the buzz get a beehive.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

As the Japanese aptly call them in their Katakana JEnglish, "Fool-rigans".

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The fans have made quite an impact on corporate greed this last week.

Good on them.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Manchis Again Going Argh! Love those red T-shirts. MAGA

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Pathetic soccer..

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Saw this earlier today. Enjoy ‘sports’ but sadly, never had the pleasure of ‘witnessing’ European football.

*- “Domestic terrorism it was not.”*

Thank you @zichi 10:57am for diffusing that:

- “It was a protest with a small number going too far.”

and bringing the conversation back to reality...-

- “The crowd was only dispersed after baton-wielding police and officers on horseback charged fans as clashes erupted under a shower of flying glass bottles about 20 minutes before the game was due to have started.

... and what we imagine is “an isolated event”.

- “Two police officers were injured and one required emergency treatment for a “significant slash wound to his face” after being attacked with a bottle, the Manchester force said.” -

Yet, are some posters more titillated by the violence ‘off the field’ than ‘inspired by the athletic competition?”

- @7:29pm - “The fans have made quite an impact on corporate greed this last week. Good on them.”

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@snowymoutainhell

Your reaction to Toasted Heretic’s point is an uninformed and hysterical one. If you knew anything about what has been going on in England this ‘past week’ you’d know that the reaction to corporate greed has taken many forms - online petitions, banners on stadiums etc. as well as the scenes yesterday.

Very emotional reaction. Not very well thought out or researched.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It was wrong for the Man U fans to invade the stadium. It was also wrong to attack the cops. Manchester United could get a fine for the game postponement and or have a point deducted.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Wakarimasen

So you're OK with greedy b*stards taking money out of the football club? Thank you very much for showing how much BS you're consuming on top of showing zero understanding about what the football club is all about. Most top pundits who cover the Premier League have shown a far better understanding of the situation than anyone from the outside writing stuff to promote a negative agenda against the fans.

This is not just a Manchester United thing. It also happened at Arsenal, at Chelsea, at Tottenham and at Liverpool. The reason why it has gotten this bad at Manchester United is because of everything the Glazers have done in the last 16 years.

Here are the facts:

1) Glazers bought the club with a loan;

2) Transferred the debt of the loan to the club;

3) Have put £0 of their own money into the club;

4) All transfers have come from club revenue;

5) The Glazers have taken over £1 billion from the club to pay interests, debt and dividends.

If that is not enough for you to show an iota of understanding as to why fans are angry, then don't bother replying. Tell me how you would feel if a foreign owner of your favorite J-League club bought the club on a loan, puts the debt of that loan upon the club, and then take the money out of the club to pay debt and dividends when that money should be invested to improve the team and the facilities.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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