An officer whose face was slashed during a protest by Manchester United fans suffered ‘life-changing injuries’ and is ‘incredibly lucky not to have lost sight’, police say.
The planned match against Liverpool was dramatically called off yesterday after anti-Glazer protesters got onto the Old Trafford pitch and clashed with police outside the stadium, as fans tried to blockade a hotel to prevent the United team from leaving for the game.
Police said one of the officers injured during a protest by Manchester United fans on Sunday suffered ‘life-changing’ eye injuries, having sustained a ‘significant’ slash wound to the face during the unrest.
Stu Berry, chairman of Greater Manchester Police Federation, which represents the force’s rank-and-file, said the injured officer was a PC with around 20 years’ service.
He said: ‘Our brave colleague went to work yesterday to keep the people of Greater Manchester safe – and he ended up coming under attack. He is incredibly lucky not to have lost the sight in an eye.
‘This is not right. Police officers are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and partners. They are sons and daughters. They are human beings who should be able to go home to their families in one piece at the end of their shifts. Not be rushed to hospital.
‘We are offering support to our injured colleague and will continue to do so as he recovers from his injuries.’
Mr Berry said police officers needed better equipment to protect themselves during demonstrations following violence at previous protests in London and Bristol in recent weeks.
He said: ‘We are witnessing colleagues come under relentless attack wearing not much more than a flat cap and a high-vis jacket and with a baton to keep themselves safe. Our officers must be properly protected and appropriately equipped with public order gear – including helmets and shields – when policing these protesters.
‘This will in no way be the last demonstration UK police officers have to encounter as the nation unlocks and our courageous colleagues are bearing the brunt of public frustration. They must have the appropriate kit available to protect themselves.
‘Officers are not – and never will be – punchbags for people protesting for their cause. We have seen too many images of police officers at protests over recent weeks with blood gushing from their faces. How many more do we have to see? How badly does a police officer have to be injured before we do something?’
One video from the clash shows a police officer appearing to punch a football fan amid ugly scenes before the planned game against Liverpool last night.
In footage captured outside the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, a team of officers were seen dragging one man away from the scene before one was seen appearing to hit the fan several times as he lies on the ground.
The force told MailOnline a 28-year-old was arrested on suspicion of a theft from a motor vehicle and a public order offence, and remains in custody for questioning.
Two police officers were hurt in the disorder as they were pelted with bottles, with one (pictured) sustaining a serous facial injury after he was slashed across the face
Manchester United fans protest against their owners before the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match in Manchester, May 2
In footage captured outside the Lowry Hotel in Manchester, an officer appears to hit a fan several times as he lies on the ground while being arrested
Several officers can be seen dragging one protester away before pinning him to the ground
Officers formed a ring around one protester as the clashes turned ugly last night
A team pinned the 28-year-old to the ground before arresting him
Footage captured from above the scene shows the arrest behind the police vans
Greater Manchester Police’s Professional Standards Branch is now examining the footage, ‘and all available evidence to understand the full circumstances surrounding the arrest.’
MANCHESTER UNITED CLUB STATEMENT
Following discussion between the Police, The Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security considerations around the protest today.
Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.
Our fans are passionate about Manchester United, and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest.
However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger.
We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.
PREMIER LEAGUE STATEMENT
Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game has been postponed.
This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.
The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance. We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches.
Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.
We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football.
The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.
Another video has since emerged showing yobs launching missiles at officers and shouting ‘f***ing pigs’ and ‘f***ing cowards’ as they attempt to karate kick their way onto the pitch.
Two police officers were hurt in the disorder as they were pelted with bottles, with one sustaining a serous facial injury.
Protesters set off smoke bombs and flares outside the stadium as cars were tipped over in the city, and the Football Association has now launched an investigation into how fans were able able to storm Old Trafford
Video captured shows several officers dragging one protester away before pinning him to the ground.
One officer tells onlookers to ‘get back’ as his colleagues tell the man arrested to ‘stop resisting.’
Greater Manchester Police told MailOnline: ‘We are aware of a video circulating online of officers making an arrest during a protest on Sunday 2 May near The Lowry Hotel.
‘The video depicts officers arresting a 28-year-old male on suspicion of a theft from a motor vehicle and a public order offence.
‘He currently remains in custody for questioning.
‘GMP’s Professional Standards Branch has been made aware of the video and will be examining the footage and all available evidence to understand the full circumstances surrounding the arrest.’
It is the first time a Premier League fixture has been postponed due to a protest, and Greater Manchester Police has now launched an investigation.
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.
He added: ‘The actions of those today required us to take officers from front-line policing and call in support from neighbouring forces to prevent the disorder getting worse.
‘At different points, bottles and barriers were thrown, officers assaulted and people scaled the stadium structure creating risk for themselves and officers.’
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.
There was an initial unspecified delay to the scheduled 1630 kick-off before confirmation came through from United at 1735 that the match had been postponed ‘due to safety and security considerations around the protest’.
A club statement read: ‘Our fans are passionate about Manchester United, and we completely acknowledge the right to free expression and peaceful protest.
‘However, we regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger.
‘We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any subsequent investigations.’
The Premier League said it understood the fans’ ‘strength of feeling’, but condemned ‘all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches’.
Armed with a can of Strongbow, two fans who stormed Old Trafford grabbed the corner flag before fleeing the stadium with it. Do YOU know the fan who grabbed the flag? Email email@example.com
Police attempted to clear the crowds from away from the player entrance and tunnel area at Old Trafford
It added: ‘Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.
‘We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football. The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.’
Liverpool, another founding member of the Super League, said they were in ‘full agreement’ with the postponement.
Manchester United Supporters Trust wants the Government to act to prevent single private shareholders holding majority ownerships in football clubs.
Manchester United protesters climbed over steel gates to enter Munich Tunnel and open access door to allow over a hundred fans into Old Trafford… ending rumours that a member of staff assisted break-in that forced postponement of Liverpool game
By Chris Wheeler for MailOnline
Manchester United fans who got inside the Munich Tunnel and forced open an access door were responsible for letting in more than a hundred fellow protesters during Sunday’s demonstration at Old Trafford, it has been revealed.
There have been concerns that the door was opened by a member of staff after protesters who got into the stadium and onto the pitch told Sportsmail that it was opened from within.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust also raised the issue in a statement on Sunday, saying: ‘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.’
However, it has now emerged that a number of fans were able to climb over the steel gates guarding the Munich Tunnel.
Manchester United fans who got inside the Munich Tunnel and forced open an access door were responsible for letting in more than a hundred fellow protesters during Sunday’s demonstration at Old Trafford, it has been revealed. Pictured, Police battle with United protesters as red steel barriers are thrown into the air
Some confronted stewards in front of the directors’ entrance but others forced open a separate access door and then doubled back to let in more protesters gathered outside.
More than a hundred flooded into Old Trafford and accessed the pitch, either through the disabled section or by sliding down the tarpaulin sheets covering the empty seats.
They took the match balls and corner flags that had been set out for the Premier League game against Liverpool, threw a flare at the Sky Sports gantry – where pundits Roy Keane, Graeme Souness, Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards were on air – and wrecked a TV camera by the side of the pitch.
Staff inside the ground were told to take refuge in offices with locked doors for their own safety until the pitch was cleared.
A second break-in occurred shortly afterwards when fans kicked in a glass entrance to the disabled lift access and got back on the pitch.
The game was eventually called off following the breach of security and clashes outside Old Trafford which left two policemen injured.
Gary Neville calls on ‘ALL football fans to unite for reform’ after anti-Glazer protestors force Liverpool clash to be postponed… while Jamie Carragher admits he ‘cannot criticise’ United supporters for their anger
By Adam Shergold and Danny Gallagher for MailOnline
Gary Neville called for a fans’ revolt to reform English football after Manchester United’s potential title-decider against Liverpool was postponed when home supporters stormed Old Trafford to protest against the Glazers’ ownership.
Protesters set off smoke bombs and flares outside the Theatre of Dreams as the demonstration turned violent in clashes with police, while another group tried to prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s squad leaving the Lowry Hotel.
Footage has emerged of cars being tipped over in the city, while even the Sky Sports punditry crew were targeted inside the ground. The clash was supposed to kick-off at 4:30pm but after an hour of confusion, the game was called-off.
United fans’ long-running discontent with the Glazers has boiled over after their cynical plot to join the European Super League collapsed, and Neville has called-on supporters to keep fighting back.
Gary Neville has backed Manchester United fans after their dramatic protest at Old Trafford and has called for reform
‘It’s a warning to the owners of the football clubs. We know some fans came in and were reasonably peaceful,’ the former right-back said on Sky Sports punditry duty.
‘The fans have spoken. It’s not going to go away. Fans don’t trust the owners of Manchester United, they don’t like them, they think the owners should leave.
‘Beyond today, fans across the country need to unite to make sure there is reform in English football
‘We don’t want to hear about disturbances today but fans have had enough. The story today is that the fans have set the spark. Will they stop another game next time?
‘I hope they’ll move towards something more measured, calm and pointed. The ball is in the owners’ court. Two weeks ago, I must say it again, it was a shocker.’
Jamie Carragher felt that a small minority of fans had hijacked the protest for their own purposes and diluted the message.
‘I see some other clubs trying to score points (by criticising United fans). We’ve lost a game of football today but you have to accept that.
A huge crowd turned-up to express their discontent with the owners, overwhelming security and making a big statement
‘A few idiots might have done things but the main aim of this from MU supporters is unhappiness with their owners. You should be able to demonstrate, but a few idiots ruin it for everyone.’
Neville’s former team-mate Roy Keane said that the size of the protest sent out a message – with the Irishman expecting follow-up demonstrations.
‘It’s a huge statement for the game to be called off. Sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice, hopefully the owners will take this seriously. This is just the start of it, mark my words,’ he claimed.
‘This is the start of it and their plan no doubt is for the United owners to give in and sell the club.’
Graeme Souness felt the dissenting fans had achieved their objectives. ‘If you set out to do something that would be seen by the whole world, you’ve done that,’ he said.
Before the postponement had been announced, former Red Devils right back launching a renewed attack on the Glazers following the failed attempt to take Manchester United into the ESL.
The debacle has already led to chief executive Ed Woodward announcing that he will step down at the end of 2021 and now the supporters want the Glazers to follow suit.
Neville said he understood their anger and slammed his old club for failing to understand their privileged role within English football: ‘I’ve never thought they were brilliant owners, but I’ve seen there are worse owners in football than the Glazer family. However, I think all football fans should unite today behind what Manchester United fans have done.
‘What they did two years ago was dangerous for English football, we must not forget that. They tried to walk away and create a closed-shop league which would have basically created a famine in this country for every other football club.
Fans set off flares and smoke bombs outside before the Liverpool match and demanded the Glazers leave
‘Those 15 clubs (who would have made up the European Super League) would have walked away from their leagues and basically destroyed the ethos of the pyramid and relegation in English football. That’s number one, it’s unforgivable what they did as a family two weeks ago.
‘The Glazer family two weeks ago tried to implement something that would have damaged every single community that has football at the heart of it. That’s why they’re dangerous.
‘Perez is dangerous, Agnelli, Laporta… they are dangerous to the concept of equal opportunity and fair play in European football.
‘Let’s not forget what we’re arguing about here. Today there is anger. I hope tomorrow it switches to mobilisation towards reform and regulation behind the fan-led review.
‘When I talked about Manchester United and Liverpool two weeks ago, they should act like the grandfather of English football.
‘Demonstrating compassion, spreading wealth through the family and being fair. They haven’t done. They’ve demonstrated greed and tried to walk away with all the money themselves and left the family struggling below. That is not what you do at this football club or Liverpool Football Club.’
Fans were furious at the historic club’s attempt to join the European Super League, which seems to have been the final straw
Although most of the crowd did disperse at around 2.20pm, shortly after entering the stadium, some fans were still there an hour later.
Carragher also backed the eye-catching stance by fans and said the animosity towards the owners of the Red Devils is about far more than planning to join a breakaway league.
‘The feeling of Manchester United and Arsenal fans towards their owners was a lot bigger than the Super League. I think that’s why they’ve protested so much,’ the ex-Liverpool centre back said.
‘This is not just about the Super League for Manchester United – this goes back 10 or 15 years ago when they were taking money out of the bank and charging season ticket holders if they didn’t want to go to a Carling Cup game, or maybe a Europa League game and just taking money off fans.
‘I totally get the frustration of Manchester United fans, and Arsenal fans, I think they’re in a similar situation with their owners. Every football fan in some way should stand with them.
Police were forced to push back to clear the Old Trafford concourse, leaving behind a devastating mess across the streets
‘We don’t want to see games called off, no-one wants to see that, but supporters are frustrated with the ownership of their own clubs. What we spoke about with the Super League, and supporters stopping that – we saw the scenes at Chelsea as well – supporters coming together is powerful.
‘Me even as a Liverpool fan, being part of those six clubs that tried to move away, I cannot criticise Manchester United fans for how they’ve gone about things basically.
‘An ownership running their club for the last 15 years has had no thought whatsoever for them. They do spend a lot of money, but I go back to what they did with the season tickets and they state of the club now compared to when they first came in.’
THE GLAZERS, THE EUROPEAN SUPER LEAGUE AND A HISTORY OF CONTROVERSIAL ACTIONS
By Adam Shergold and Danny Gallagher for MailOnline
Playing a huge role in the doomed European Super League was just the latest in a long line of actions which has irked the United fanbase, leaving thousands disillusioned with their football club.
The Glazer family, along with Liverpool’s America owner John W. Henry, were said to be the driving force behind the plan which also brought in Arsenal, Tottenham and belatedly Manchester City and Chelsea. The latter pair were understood to be reluctant to put their names to the plan, and swiftly pulled out once the backlash was felt.
A photograph, taken in October 2017, showed United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer dining around a table at a fancy New York restaurant, along with the fellow ‘Big Six’ owners.
(L-R) Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis, Man United co-owners Avi Glazer and Joel Glazer and Liverpool principal owner John W Henry met up for dinner in New York in October 2017. Was this the day the Super League took a giant step towards being created?
At the time, Sportsmail reported how television rights could well have been on the agenda of their meeting because the three sides had been agitating for a greater slice of the pie. But now experts believe the project that has sparked a ‘nuclear war’ in world football may have been on the menu.
Instead of splitting the income equally between 20 Premier League teams, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United wanted a model similar to Spain, where Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid – coincidentally also founder members of the Super League get more of the cash. All six are part of the ‘dirty dozen’ of clubs now signed up.
The extraordinary meeting re-emerged as UEFA’s boss has slammed the billionaire ‘snakes’ and ‘liars’ behind the European Super League as it was revealed Boris Johnson will meet the FA, Premier League, the PFA and fans today and vowed to give the £4.3billion breakaway competition ‘the red card’ even though rebel clubs are signed up until 2046.
A section of the United fanbase opposed Glazer’s initial takeover of the club back in 2005, particularly once they realised the level of debt that the club would have to take on after having been debt-free for so many years.
The much-maligned Glazer family have failed to get the fans onboard since buying the club as supporters continue to demand change
The way the Americans have been running the club has led to constant fury regarding United being used as cash cow
In their anger, fans launched a breakaway football club F.C. United of Manchester in 2005, which entered the North West Counties Football League and played in the sixth tier National League North from 2015 to 2019.
Since 2005, the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust has been working on a way of wrestling control away from the Glazer family and returning ownership of the club to supporters. In 2010, the fan organisation met with a group of wealthy United fans – dubbed the ‘Red Knights’ – to discuss a billion-pound takeover bid. However, the bid fell through when the Red Knights refused to meet the Glazers’ valuation of the club.
On 29 June 2005, on their first visit to Old Trafford after the takeover was completed, Joel, Bryan and Avram Glazer were met with protests by around 300 Manchester United fans who opposed the club’s new ownership.
Around 100 members of Greater Manchester Police were called to the stadium in an attempt to quell any violence, but there were reports of missiles being thrown at the police vans and strong, impassioned chants against the Americans; two people were arrested.
The vice-chairman of Shareholders United, Sean Bones, declared that ‘the Glazer family are the enemies of Manchester United.’ Club director and former player Bobby Charlton issued a public apology to the Glazers for the reception they received.
The debt taken on by the Glazers to finance the takeover was split between the club and the family; between £265 million and £275 million was secured against Manchester United’s assets, putting the club into debt for the first time since James Gibson saved them in 1931.
In total the Glazers have taken an estimated £200million from the club in dividends since they loaded £540m of borrowings on what had been a debt-free club when they launched their takeover in 2005.
At Old Trafford, the Glazers remain silent owners and are rarely seen around the club on match days. Much of the day to day running of the club was left to former chief Ed Woodward, who recently announced he would be resigning from his position at the end of the year, in light of the Super League disgrace.
Woodward was a key figure in fiercely controversial plans for the new breakaway league, with his links to US investment bank JP Morgan helping to secure the £4.3billion in financing.
After publicly confirming his decision, Woodward said: ‘I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years.
‘The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.’
Woodward will leave United after eight years at the helm and 16 years after he first became involved as part of the £790million takeover at Old Trafford by the Glazers in 2005.
He has been credited with overseeing a 500 per cent growth in commercial revenue from £47m in 2005 to £279m in 2020, but also criticised for opening up the United brand to ‘noodle sponsorships’ around the globe.
Woodward has been held responsible by supporters for United winning only three trophies during his time in charge, and his Cheshire home was targeted by an angry mob in January 2020.
United initially joining the European Super League has led to a wave of fans calling for change and caused the mass protest
Source: Daily Mail UK