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Case Studies

Manchester United anti-Glazer protest

Police have condemned violence during the Manchester United fan protest on Sunday, May 2 that saw a largely peaceful trespass on the Old Trafford home of the club that led to the calling off of a Premier League match against Liverpool. This was the first Premiership match to be stopped due to an incursion of fans; although Old Trafford in May 2016 had a game against Bournemouth postponed in a terror alert over a suspicious device which turned out to be a ‘bomb’ planted for training purposes.

More than 1000 protesters gathered outside the Old Trafford stadium; a glass door at AE8 was pushed in, giving some protesters access to the pitch. Separately, fewer fans protested at the Lowry Hotel nearby in Manchester city centre, where as usual the Manchester United players gathered to be bussed to the game.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said afterwards that flares were let off and bottles and barriers were thrown at police officers and horses. GMP Assistant Chief Constable Nick Bailey, said: “The behaviour shown at this protest was absolutely atrocious. Officers were just trying to do their job and facilitate a peaceful protest, however a number of those present became hostile and aggressive towards officers and forced entry to the football grounds, making it very clear that this protest was not peaceful and ruining it for the majority of protesters who had not intended for the protest to become violent.

“Our officers tried to engage with protestors, but were met with violence and aggression which resulted in enforcement action being taken. Enforcement will always be a last resort, but in these circumstances it was deemed necessary to maintain safety during a situation that was rising in hostility. No officer should have to come to work and face these conditions.”

In a statement, the club said that it will work with the police to identify those involved in crime, and will issue its own sanctions to any season ticket holder or member identified. GMP said that a 28-year old man had been arrested and that it was urgently reviewing evidence.

The protest was one of several prompted by the abortive efforts by Manchester United among other European clubs to form a ‘Super League’. While fans of the English clubs that signed up to the break-away League – also Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester City – also demonstrated outside their stadiums, as did other clubs’ supporters – notably Leeds United, when their club was playing Liverpool while the ‘Super League’ was alive – the Manchester United protest has been particularly bitter, and dating from well before the ‘Super League’, aimed at the Glazer family owners. Protests before the Bank Holiday Sunday included at Manchester United’s Carrington training ground.

Photo by Mark Rowe; Old Trafford under lights for 24-hour grass growth, 2015.


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