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UK PM understands as police probe Man United protest

London (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he understood “people’s strength of feeling” over football and club ownership as police launched an investigation into the protest that led to the postponement of Manchester United’s Premier League clash at home to Liverpool.

Fans invaded Old Trafford and ran onto the pitch Sunday as part of a demonstration against United’s owners, the US-based Glazer family. Greater Manchester Police saying one of their officers required emergency hospital treatment.

Anger towards the Glazers has been reignited by United’s part in a failed European Super League (ESL) project, which collapsed within 48 hours last month after a backlash from fans, players, governments and governing bodies.

Johnson, speaking Monday during a campaign visit to the north-east town of Hartlepool, where there is a parliamentary by-election on May 6, 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.

“And I think that it’s a good thing that we have been able to do things that make it pretty clear that the European Super League is not going to be appreciated by the people of this country, or by this government.”

Hundreds of fans managed to make their way into the ground, chanting “we want Glazers out”.

Large numbers of supporters had also gathered outside the stadium and there were clashes with police as they moved to disperse the crowd, with objects thrown at officers and horses.

– ‘Reckless and dangerous’ –

Two officers were injured, with one “attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment”, according to a Greater Manchester Police statement.

Assistant chief constable Russ Jackson criticised the “reckless and dangerous” behaviour of supporters involved in acts of violence.

A United statement said: “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 while it understood the fans’ “strength of feeling”, it condemned “all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches”.

Manchester City could have been crowned Premier League champions on Sunday had United lost the match.

The Premier League said a new date for the match would be announced “in due course”.

United and Liverpool were reportedly two of the leading drivers behind the Super League project. It sought to guarantee top level European football for 15 founder members every season without the need to qualify on the pitch.

In a rare public statement, United co-chairman Joel Glazer apologised to fans last month for signing up to the ESL.

“You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right,” he said.

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  1. Roberto

    May 3, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Yes, the attack on the Capital was serious violence! A member of the Manchester police was slashed. The problems with crowd actions is that they can be used by individuals as a cover for violent actions that have nothing to do with the actual protest.

  2. jason

    May 3, 2021 at 12:23 pm

    Gee with that attitude the American Revolution would never happen. Just standing outside holding fences and chanting never changed the minds of any elitist. Sometimes you need to act. This move by the Manchester Untied fans is 100% necessary. Stop each game until they are forced to play outside the UK for all I care. Elistist owners need to change now and fast or get out.

    What violence are you talking about? A camera stand getting thrown? Please. Many of the media and sheep condeming this and what happened at the US Capitol on Janaury 6 praised all of the BLM stuff last year….that was real violence by the way.

  3. Yespage

    May 3, 2021 at 11:59 am

    Protests, fine. Protests with violence, not as fine. Protests trespassing onto the pitch and prohibiting a game being played? How exactly should this be covered? The Glazers followed the typically condoned American corporate maneuver of purchasing something with lots of debt. They use the franchise to pay off the interest and then dividend themselves some bucks as well. This should be a story unto itself, but clashing with the police? That doesn’t get the point across. Nor did trespassing on the pitch. They come across as hooligans.

  4. jason

    May 3, 2021 at 9:56 am

    Rebecca Lowe’s commentary on NBC of all of this was embarassing and disgrace. She has shown to be an elitist. Clearly she is siding with the elistism that is represented by the billionaire owners and the tv networks.

  5. Yespage

    May 3, 2021 at 9:32 am

    The ESL at Manchester United was a last straw thing. The Glazers have been playing loose with the finances for over a decade. They have spent money for the club, but it overleveraged for where it should be.

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