Fan violence at Old Trafford condemned by authorities

Violence during last Sunday's protests by Manchester United fans at Old Trafford, which led to their English Premier League game with Liverpool being postponed, has been condemned by the British government's sports minister and the mayor of Greater Manchester.

United fans protesting against the club's American owners, the Glazer family, stormed into the stadium, which was closed to fans due to Covid-19 restrictions.

A flare was thrown at the broadcasters' podium as fans ran on to the field and protesters clashed with police outside the ground.

Greater Manchester Police said two officers were injured, with one requiring hospital treatment after he was attacked with a bottle and suffered a slash wound to his face.

Said Nigel Huddleston, Minister for Tourism and Sport: "We understand the frustrations, but the violence by a small minority of fans at Old Trafford yesterday was unacceptable."

Fan protests against the Glazers, which have taken place sporadically since they bought the club in 2005, have been reignited since United's involvement in the failed attempt to create a breakaway European Super League.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who publicly opposed the Super League plans, said he understood the motives behind the protests.

He said: "I don't think it's a good idea to have disruptive behaviour, demonstrations of that kind. But, on the other hand, I do understand people's strength of feeling."

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham also expressed support for the aims of the protesters but criticised the violence.

Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness, however, believes fan anger is "slightly misdirected" at the Glazers.

He said on Sky Sports: "The Glazers, since Fergie retired, have given successive managers over £1 billion (S$1.85b) to spend. I think it's £719m net spend over the eight years.

"I think it's born out of Man United not being top dogs as much as what happened last week. I think that was another excuse to have a go at them."

However, ex-United defender Gary Neville said on Sky Sports: "This is a consequence of the Manchester United owners' actions two weeks ago... There's huge discontent...

"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." - REUTERS