Hundreds of United supporters took to the pitch and set off flares just two hours before the scheduled 4.30pm kick-off at the club’s stadium on Sunday, with thousands more gathering outside the ground in protest of the Glazer family’s ownership.
United fans also gathered outside the Lowry Hotel in Salford, preventing the club’s team bus from leaving for Old Trafford.
Although the Old Trafford pitch and the area surrounding the ground were eventually cleared – as well as the area around United’s team bus – no revised kick-off time was given, with United players remaining in their hotel rooms, according to Sky Sports.
The game was then called off shortly before 5.45pm, with a new date for the fixture yet to be announced.
The supporter protests come in the wake of United’s involvement in the collapsed Super League – a planned breakaway tournament, in which the Glazers played a key role.
A Premier League statement read: “Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game has been postponed.
“This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.
“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance. We understand and respect the strength of feeling but condemn all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated COVID-19 breaches. Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.
“We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football.
“The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.”
A United statement read: “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.”
Fans entered the tunnels at Old Trafford and took to the pitch but did not enter the ground’s changing rooms, thus the Premier League’s original decision not to call off the game due to any coronavirus protocol breach – despite the tunnels and pitch being labelled as prohibited ‘red zones’ amid the pandemic.
The decision to stage the match was later reversed, however, after a consultation with police.
If the game had gone ahead and Liverpool had won at Old Trafford, Man City would have been crowned Premier League champions, with second-placed rivals United unable to match or overtake City’s points tally.
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies