Inside Man Utd protests as pitch stormed and kit men locked in changing room

They came in their thousands to make their voices heard and send their message around the world.

Generations of Manchester United fans descended on Old Trafford to protest against the club's owner the Glazers and force the postponement of their game against arch rivals Liverpool.

For the second time in a fortnight, after the collapse of the controversial European Super League proposal, direct fan action forced the issue and provided another reminder of its enduring power.

Football has been waiting to welcome fans back into stadiums for more than a year now, but not like this, a sinister, depressing spectacle that brought shame on the world's biggest club.

Yet United cannot say they did not see this coming, which is what makes the ease with which fans were able to breach security, gain access to the stadium and the pitch all the more shocking.

Just 10 days earlier, a group of United fans had managed to bypass security at the club's training complex on the outskirts of Manchester and demand an audience with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

And in the days leading up to the Liverpool game, the most high-profile fixture in the Premier League, with a global TV audience of 600million, full notice was given of the mass protest.

Organisers mobilised thousands of fans through social media, culminating in the extraordinary scenes at Old Trafford, when hundreds broke through barriers and stormed the famous stadium.

Stewards and police were powerless to stop the fans breaching the security cordon and gaining entry to the stadium just after 2pm, after thousands had gathered around the Holy Trinity statue of George Best, Denis Law and Sir Bobby Charlton.

Around 200 protesters were able to gain entry to the stadium through an entrance used by away fans, with unconfirmed suggestions the access route was left open, with no visible damage to the gate used by the fans.

Once inside, protesters ran amok, breaking goalposts, throwing lit flares towards a broadcast compound, taking corner flags and match balls, while one fan threw a TV camera tripod onto the ground, in a wanton act of vandalism. Others staged an impromptu kickabout as groundsmen, who were preparing the pitch for the game, were forced to flee.

There were violent clashes between police and fans at the entrance to the Munich Tunnel, with bottles and missiles thrown, as officers sought to stop more from entering the stadium.

A line of riot police pushed the crowds back, but a second group of fans were able to make their way into the stadium and onto the pitch, with a small number getting close to the dressing-rooms.

That forced the Liverpool kit men to lock themselves in the visiting dressing-room, while Premier League match officials sought sanctuary elsewhere.

It took police until around 4.30pm, the scheduled kick-off time, to gain control of the stadium forecourt on Sir Matt Busby Way. But it was another half-an-hour before the stadium was declared secure, with all protesters having been removed.

Simultaneously, three miles away, another group of 300 protesters blocked access routes in and around the Lowry Hotel, United's pre-match base for home games, where Solskjaer, his players and staff were all confined.

Several players, including striker Marcus Rashford, were spotted staring out of their windows down at the unfolding drama outside, with fans chanting “We want Glazers out” and “We decide when you play”.

Across the city, Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool players were holed up in their hotel, the Hyatt, waiting to learn whether the game would go ahead.

Mirror Sport joins social media blackout

Mirror Sport is proud to stand in solidarity with everyone who faces hate and discrimination online.

Our sports social media accounts will be silent from 3pm on Friday 30 April to midnight on Monday 3 May.

We stand with football against hate.

You can still get all the latest news by visiting Mirror.co.uk/sport or get email updates on the day's biggest stories by signing up for our newsletters.

Solskjaer and United's players did not leave the Lowry until just before 7pm, more than four hours after their original departure time, after police deemed it safe for them to go.

And at 5.30pm came official confirmation that the biggest fixture in English football was postponed due to safety concerns.

They may have achieved their aim of getting the game called off, but the actions of United fans will not have the desired effect of forcing the Glazers to sell up.

The Glazers have never cared for United fans and yesterday's tumultuous scenes, however shocking and impactful, are not going to change that.

Source: Read Full Article