he Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has called on the Government to act to private shareholders holding majority ownerships in football clubs following extraordinary fan protests at Old Trafford which saw Sunday’s game against Liverpool postponed.
Around 100 supporters broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch during the demonstration, forcing some United staff to lock themselves in rooms.
Outside the ground, bottles and barriers were thrown at police officers and horses. Two officers were injured, with one “attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment”, Greater Manchester Police said.
GMP assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said it was clear many demonstrators had no intention of protesting peacefully as he condemned their “reckless and dangerous” behaviour.
The Red Devils were among 12 clubs that last month signed up for the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.
Those plans brought anger against the already-despised Glazer family to a new level, with fans congregating at both Old Trafford and the Lowry, the team hotel in the city centre, to demand change ahead of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.
Police said that by late afternoon around 200 protesters had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at the stadium.
Following the protests, MUST issued a statement following the demonstration, calling on the Government to help fans have a greater say in how their football clubs are run.
“What we witnessed at Old Trafford today is the culmination of 16 years since the Glazer family’s acquisition of the club,” the statement read. “Over that period, the owners have taken £1bn out of the club and we have witnessed decay and decline both on the field and off it.
“Whilst the invasion of the stadium isn’t something we expected, and it is rumoured a gate was opened for fans, even if that is not the case we believe the vast majority of Manchester United staff are sympathetic with the views of the fans.
“Supporters turned up on the day of a game they could not even attend, to peacefully protest and speak with one clear voice about the change that needs to happen at our club.
“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.
“The Government needs to reflect the views of ordinary people who see that now is the time to reclaim the people’s game.”
Additional reporting by PA.