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Men’s football ‘Best protest you will see at any ground’

MANCHESTER UNITED fans dramatically broke into Old Trafford and invaded the pitch in what one fan described as the “best protest you will see at any ground” against the Glazer family, leaving their Premier League match against Liverpool in doubt as the Star went to press.

The Red Devils were among 12 clubs that signed up for the breakaway European Super League, which collapsed within 48 hours of its announcement due to huge and unrelenting pressure from supporters and other clubs.

Those plans brought anger against the already despised Glazer family to a new level, with fans congregating at Old Trafford to demand change ahead of yesterday’s Premier League match against rivals Liverpool.

The game, which had been due to get under way at 4.30pm, was delayed after hundreds of supporters got into the stadium and onto the pitch, but no revised kick-off time was given by the Premier League.

The Premier League said on its live blog: “The safety of everyone at Old Trafford is paramount. At present there is no revised kick-off time. We will update accordingly.”

Flares were let off by protesters inside the ground, where corner flags were held aloft and one supporter was seen throwing a tripod from the interview zone.

Former United defender Gary Neville told Sky Sports News: “There’s huge discontent. They’re basically saying: Enough is enough.

“The Glazer family have been resilient and stubborn for many years. I think they’re struggling for many, many years to meet the financial demands 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.

“They haven’t got to a Champions League semi-final for 10 years and haven’t won the league for eight. The land around the ground is undeveloped, dormant and derelict, when every other club seems to be developing their facilities and their fan experiences.

“The Glazer family are struggling to meet the financial requirements and the fans are saying the time is up.

[The Glazers are] going to make a fortune if they sell this football club. If they were to put it up for sale now, I think the time would be right and it’d be the honourable thing to do.”

A meeting was held to establish what happened and the impact on the game, with the pitch damaged by the protesters and Covid-19 protocols to consider.

Fans congregated from about 1pm outside the trinity statue on the Old Trafford forecourt as another group took their protests to the Lowry hotel, where the United team were staying ahead of the game.

Hundreds outside Old Trafford became thousands by the time the protest got under way at 2pm, when two firecrackers were let off and fans began to march towards the Munich Tunnel.

Red fences put in front of the East Stand did not last long, being quickly toppled as stewards were overcome and chanting supporters made their way towards the tunnel.

Footage soon emerged of hundreds of fans on the pitch, with a bunch exiting by jumping down to the nearby canal paths and others running out through the main gates at about 2.30pm.

An hour later another small batch of protesters were seen leaving the stadium. There was no sign of the teams at the ground but the line-ups were announced by the Premier League at 3.30pm.

One of the fans who made it on to the pitch, who gave his name only as Ryan, said: “The protest went better than expected.

“The whole idea of the protest was to cause disruption, and I believe that’s what’s been achieved. The atmosphere was unreal, I myself have spent my life idolising this club, and to watch how the Glazers have used the club has angered and disappointed me.

“The scenes on the pitch were unreal, we achieved what we needed to and took it further by making it onto the pitch. Do I agree with causing damage? Absolutely not, but what do Manchester United really expect? They have been told for years.”

Another supporter, Elliot Brady, 23, said: “Best protest you will see at any ground and makes me proud to be a part of it.

“Yeah, we made it onto the pitch, made me feel honoured to be there. Glazers have to sell and return the club back to the fans.”

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