Police break up protest as fans trap Glazers in Old Trafford

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Fans' groups mobilised supporters via text messages and by the time the Glazers were ready to leave Old Trafford at 8pm, security guards had erected 8ft barriers around the South Stand. However, the group of 200 fans had built barriers to block the Glazers' exit.

The brothers finally exited out of sight of the fans over two hours later ­ reportly they were spirited away in a police van ­ but not without the protest descending into violence and police having to break through the demonstration.

Understood to have been in the UK since Saturday, the Glazers have met the English football authorities in London, where they promised the Premier League they would not break the collective television rights agreement.

The brothers arrived at Old Trafford amid tight security. With club employees briefed that they would be visiting, the three men, whose arrival had been marked by a discreet police presence all day, went down to pitchside and met the chief executive David Gill in the boardroom.

Gill had earlier accompanied the brothers, installed on the United board this month, to meetings with the Premier League, the FA and the Government.

They told the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, that they had no plans to break up the collective selling agreement that many thought would be their first target. With more than £500m of debt to service, that could yet be an option.

Joel, who is tipped to be the next chairman, said they had been " grateful" to meet administrators. "There's been a lot in the UK press in the last 18 months and this has been an invaluable chance to tell the men who run the game what the truth is," he said. "I hope they're reassured."

Although the brothers have no immediate plans to meet fans' groups, they will hold meetings with the club's main sponsors, Vodafone and Nike. They also met the FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, who reminded them of their responsibilities. "They addressed the many important questions we had to ask them," Barwick said.

The readiness with which the Glazers met the two bodies suggests they have made their peace with Sir Alex Ferguson, who would not take kindly to being made to wait behind the FA and the Premier League. The United manager is at pre-season training in Portugal and has no plans to return.

The Glazers also met the Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn. He said United served a fan base "from Trafford to Tokyo" and that he was reassured by the meeting. "There has been a considerable amount of concern and our discussion reflected that," he said. "I am reassured on collective selling of Premier League TV rights."

The Glazers' public relations will be crucial if they are to take their seats in the directors' box. Their PR operation, run until now by an outside company, is to be taken in-house. They will have to deal with suggestions that they plan to sell the ground and lease it back. Meanwhile, the brothers will reflect on a week in which they enjoyed a tour of the House of Commons and drinks in the House of Lords bar.

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