London (AFP) – Police said on Wednesday they were not to blame for Manchester United’s late arrival for their Champions League match against Valencia following criticism from manager Jose Mourinho as UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the club.
The United team arrived late at Old Trafford, forcing kick-off to be delayed by five minutes to 8:05 pm (1905 GMT).
Mourinho said United were refused an escort by Greater Manchester Police (GMP), which led to their journey from their hotel taking 45 minutes longer than usual.
But police said they are no longer obliged to provide that service for every match and that the club were aware of the change in policy.
“All police deployments are carried out following a comprehensive risk-assessment process and specifically in respect of escort team buses, are only ever undertaken on occasions when there is intelligence or information to suggest a risk of threat or harm to the players,” said a police statement.
“GMP has previously used police vehicles to accompany a team’s coach but after a review of our core policing responsibilities it was decided that we would no longer provide this service at every fixture.”
The match saw United extend their winless run to four games with a stuttering goalless draw that keeps the pressure on Mourinho.
In his post-match press conference, Mourinho explained why his team had arrived late.
He said: “We left the hotel at six o’clock, hoping that 30 minutes would be enough, which it normally is. But this time the police refused to do an escort, so we came by ourselves.
“We took from the Lowry Hotel, 75 minutes. UEFA were nice, the referee was nice to allow us to start the game five minutes later because we at least need half an hour to be prepared.”
But United now face possible UEFA sanctions over their “late team arrival” and “late kick-off” in the Group H match, according to a brief statement from European football’s governing body.
Valencia have also been charged over the late kick-off, setting off of fireworks and kit infringement.
The case will be dealt with by the UEFA control, ethics and disciplinary body on October 18.
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