Manchester United will review security arrangements in the wake of Sunday’s protest at Old Trafford and consider banning fans responsible for violence and illegality.
United’s game with Liverpool had to be postponed and questions will be asked by the club hierarchy regarding how a gathering intended to be peaceful unfolded. A group of individuals broke into the stadium, leading to criminal damage, and unrest in the Munich Tunnel caused injuries to two police officers, one of whom required hospital treatment.
Those who gathered at the ground and at the Lowry hotel, where the team stay before matches, had intended to delay the game or cause its postponement and there are plans for more protests against the owners, the Glazers, whose leveraged buyout in 2005 loaded a debt on United that stands at £455m.
United have three more home matches – against Leicester, Fulham and the rearranged Liverpool fixture – with the first due on Wednesday week. There is a recognition at the club that security measures should be assessed for these. Footage and other documentation of Sunday’s events will be studied to decide any potential sanctions for those who broke the law. Any criminal acts will be dealt with by Greater Manchester Police but the club can decide their own action, including bans.
Sunday’s security arrangements had been designed to allow peaceful protests, and there was no heavy police presence in the forecourt of Old Trafford where the crowd assembled because there was no wish to send a provocative or negative signal.
United remain intent on trying to heal the rupture between the Glazers and the disaffected supporter base. When the club pulled out of the now defunct European Super League, Joel Glazer promised to engage more with fans. Whether this means the co-chairman or any other family member will directly converse with them is unclear because they are still analysing how best to make good on this commitment.
In an open letter to Joel Glazer, Manchester United Supporters Trust said on Monday: “What happened [on Sunday] was the culmination of 16 years in which your family’s ownership of the club has driven us into debt and decline, and we have felt ever more sidelined and ignored. After 16 years not one member of the Glazer family has ever had so much as a conversation with us, the club’s Supporters Trust.”