Two police officers were injured during clashes with Manchester United fans outside Old Trafford on Sunday, Greater Manchester Police have said as an investigation is launched into altercations between protesters and law enforcement.
In a statement, assistant chief constable Russ Jackson condemned the protest as “reckless and dangerous” and said the club’s match against Liverpool was postponed due to safety reasons.
Around 1,000 protesters gathered outside the stadium to demonstrate against the club’s owners, the Glazer family, with another 200 attempting to block the team bus outside the Lowry Hotel in Manchester.
A group of around 100 protesters gained entry onto the Old Trafford pitch while outside the ground, bottles and flares were thrown.
“Those in the stadium were evicted by officers but outside on the forecourt hostility grew with bottles and barriers being thrown at officers and horses,” Greater Manchester Police said.
“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.”
Statements from Manchester United and the Premier League also condemned the protests, which came in the wake of the club’s involvement in the proposed Super League.
“The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous,” assistant chief constable Jackson said.
“We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest. Plans were in place to ensure this could happen safely, but it soon became clear that many present had no intention of doing so peacefully.
“We have launched an investigation and we will be working closely alongside partners to ensure we establish the full circumstances surrounding today’s events and prosecute those responsible.”
Stu Berry, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, added: “We witnessed appalling scenes this afternoon – police officers are not punchbags for people protesting for their cause.
“At the end of their shifts, hard-working police officers should be able to go home to their families in one piece. Not be rushed to hospital.”
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said on Twitter: “It is important to make clear that the majority of supporters made their protest peacefully today. However, there is no excuse for the actions of a minority who injured police officers and endangered the safety of others.
“This could be an important moment to change football for the better. We should all condemn violence of any kind and keep the focus on the behaviour of those at the top of the game.”
Manchester United Supporters Trust wants the Government to act to prevent single private shareholders holding majority ownerships in football clubs.
It said in a statement: “On the back of the indefensible ESL proposals, and an ‘apology’ from the Glazers which we do not accept, we need to give fans a meaningful share in the ownership of United and a meaningful voice in how it is run.
“The Government now needs to act. That has to mean a process which results in fans having the opportunity to buy shares in their club and more to the point no single private shareholder holding a majority ownership of our football clubs which allows them to abuse that ownership.”
Additional reporting by agencies