Manchester United deny protest allegations

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The Independent Online

Manchester United have played down claims the club's security staff denied supporters entry to yesterday's reserve league final at Old Trafford because they believed the fans were about to engage in a green and gold protest.

The Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association said CES staff "stopped people in their twos and threes from gaining entry because of their supposed involvement in protests on other occasions".

Press Association Sport understands that although some supporters were denied access to the stadium, the initial decision was taken because the size of the banners being carried contravened ground regulations.

Those supporters returned after putting the banners back in their cars, and then two were refused entry to Old Trafford for offences at previous reserve team games at Altrincham, which included abusive behaviour towards officials.

"As a result of meetings between the club and IMUSA, banners are allowed at Old Trafford that conform to our regulations," said a United spokesman.

"Fans are free to protest providing it is in a peaceful way."

Supporters groups opposed to the Glazer regime estimate "99%" of fans are against the owners, who they hope will accept an offer for the club from the Red Knights group which is due to be launched at some point in June.

Both Sir Alex Ferguson and United chief executive David Gill have backed the rights of fans to protest, even if they do not agree with the sentiments.

Only this weekend, Gill addressed the issue in the Manchester United Disabled Supporters' Association magazine 'Rollin' Reds'.

He said: "I have asked the players and they say they are not distracted, but if your question is 'would I prefer all red and white instead of gold and green when you have a full stadium and you are playing host to famous opposition', of course I would.

"If the question is 'would I prefer not to look out of my office and see the scarves they are selling on the street', of course I'd prefer that. But as Alex has said, people have a right to protest.

"Nobody is going to stop that, and in the ground itself we are not going to stop that."

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