Fans gathered at Old Trafford at 1 p.m. local time (12 p.m. GMT) to protest the owners with flags and flares, according to British newspapers.
They pressed their way through the walls in preparation for one of the most important domestic games of the season, which was set to begin at 4.30 p.m. local time. After about ten minutes, they left the pitch.
The match later was postponed after United fans forced their way into the stadium and stormed the Old Trafford pitch to protest against the club’s owners – the Glazer family.
“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,” United said in a statement after the game was called off.
“Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the fixture.”
Liverpool issued a statement saying they were in full agreement with the decision.
An hour after the scheduled 3:30 p.m. GMT kickoff, both sets of players were still stuck in their hotels. The Lowry Hotel, where United’s players were preparing for the match, was also the scene of a large anti-Glazer protest.
According to Greater Manchester Police, about 100 United fans took to the pitch, some throwing flares and others bearing banners demanding that the Glazers relinquish ownership of the club they purchased in 2005. On top of one of the goals, a young fan was pictured.
According to police, some United employees barricaded themselves in their offices.
Due to COVID-19 limits, the match was played behind closed doors, but it did not deter wild and ugly scenes inside and outside Old Trafford, which left one police officer needing hospital care after being stabbed with a glass, according to Greater Manchester Police.
Media representatives covering the game, including Reuters, were kept outside as the stadium was locked down after the fans had been removed.
In a statement, the Premier League said: “Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United versus 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.”
There was no information about where the match would take place. United wanted a victory to save Manchester City from being crowned champions on Sunday.
Although the rally was well-planned and mostly calm, it quickly devolved into anarchy as fans entered the stadium.
Hundreds of supporters marched outside the stadium, releasing green and gold flares – the colours of United’s jerseys when they were Newton Heath and embraced by many who have frequently opposed the club’s leadership.
Mounted police moved in to try to clear the areas outside the stadium and there were ugly clashes with bottles and barriers being thrown at police officers.”The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous,” GMP Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said.
“We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest. But it soon became clear that many present had no intention of doing so peacefully.”
The protest follows United’s initial decision to join a European Super League (ESL) along with five other English clubs. The plans for that breakaway league fell apart within days due to widespread opposition.
“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,” Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) said in a statement after the postponement.
“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,” added MUST.
Former United defender Gary Neville, who was a fierce critic of the club’s decision to join the Super League, was on the ground as part of the Sky Sports commentary team.
“The reason why those thousands and thousands of fans came today is because they have had enough. They have had enough,” Neville said.
The anti-Glazer movement has gained momentum in recent weeks following the club’s failed attempt to form part of a breakaway European Super League last month.
United owner Joel Glazer, who was named the European Super League vice chairperson when the announcement was made, has apologized to the fans in an open letter after they withdrew from the project.
However, the apology seems to have been refused by the club’s fan base, who demonstrated outside Old Trafford last week, after protests at United’s training ground.
The pitch attack came after a rally at the Lowry Hotel, where the Manchester United team usually spends the night before every home game in training.
In 2005, the American Glazer family paid 790 million pounds ($1.1 billion) for United. About the fact that it has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, the Glazers hold a controlling stake.