'Shocking': English Premier League rocked by 'unacceptable' scenes

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·Sports Reporter
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Police clear out Manchester United protesters (pictured left) at Old Trafford and and a protester holding a flair (pictured right) with a mask on in front of a banner.
Police clear out Manchester United protesters (pictured left) and a protester holding a flair (pictured right) in front of a banner that reads: "I want the Glazers out". (Getty Images)

The football clash between old rivals Manchester United and Liverpool has been postponed after hundreds of supporters protested and stormed Old Trafford in stunning scenes.

Rivals Manchester City would have been waiting in anticipation hoping a Liverpool victory over United would hand them the Premier League title, but they will be forced to wait longer after officials made the unprecedented move of abandoning the match due to anti-ownership protests.

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The wrath of supporters has boiled over in the two weeks since the club was part of the failed European Super League breakaway that collapsed amid a groundswell of condemnation.

The organised protests, calling for the Glazers to sell the club, started as fans blocked the players from leaving the team hotel.

Others then protested outside Old Trafford with banners calling for the '50+1' rule, which is a system run in the German League where fans have a say of who sits on the board, while many chanted 'We want Glazers out'.

Supporters gained access to the pitch - before the two teams even travelled 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 kick-off.

Many fans acted with shock and disdain for the protests ahead of one of the most watched clashes in football around the world after reports two policeman had been injured.

Football legend Graeme Souness also hit out at the "unacceptable" protests, after he claimed someone threw a beer at the Sky Sports commentary team.

"If that had hit any one of us, we'd be lying in hospital permanently scarred on one side of our face," he said. "So that ain't a laughable situation," he said.

"Someone threw a full can of beer at us. Again, if that clips you in the wrong place, that might even kill you. So, let's not be tippy-tappy around the situation. That is unacceptable."

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Others pointed out the protests was a culmination of years of being ignored by the owners since 2004.

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 start.

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.

Neville hits out at Glazers

United had no debt until the Glazers arrived and the latest half-year accounts showed it had soared 16% year-on-year to Stg 455.5 million ($A815.5 million).

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

One such voice that highlighted the importance of the protests was former United player Gary Neville.

Neville, who was one of the harshest critics of the Super League when it was announced, has called for fans across England to unite behind the protests in a peaceful manner.

"The Glazer family are struggling to meet the financial requirements at this club and the fans are saying that their time is up," he said.

"My view is quite simply that they're going to make a fortune if they sell the club and if they were to put it up for sale now I think the time would be right, and it would be the honourable thing to do.

"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.

"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.

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"If you think about the club they picked up in 2004, it had the best stadium in the country, one of the best in Europe, it had the best training ground in this country, and probably one of the best in Europe.

"It had a team that was consistently getting to Champions League quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals regularly and winning the league every season or every other season.

"If you look at the club now, this stadium I know it looks great here but if you go behind the scenes it is rusting and rotten. If you look at the training ground it's probably not even the top five in this country, they haven't got to a Champions League semi-final for 10 years.

"We haven't won a league here at Manchester United for eight years. The land around the ground is undeveloped, dormant and derelict while every other club seems to be developing the facilities and the fan experience.

"All football fans should unite today behind what Manchester United fans have done today because what happened two weeks ago was really dangerous for English football."

with AAP

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