Manchester United have dismissed reports that protestors gained entry to Old Trafford through a door deliberately opened by club staff.
A group of United supporters were able to make it inside the stadium and onto the pitch during a demonstration aimed at the team owners, the Glazer family, on Sunday. It led to the postponement of the team’s Premier League clash with Liverpool.
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A club statement issued on Monday read. “Following events yesterday, while many fans wanted to exercise their right to protest and express their opinion peacefully, some were intent on disrupting the team’s preparation and the game itself, as evidenced by activity at the Lowry Hotel and at the stadium.
“Reports in mainstream and social media that protesters were able to access the stadium and pitch via a gate opened by club staff are completely incorrect.
“After breaking through barriers and security on the forecourt, some protestors climbed the gates at the end of the Munich tunnel, then forced access to a side door in the stand, before opening an external door that let others through to the concourse area and the pitch.
“A second breach occurred when a protestor smashed the door of a disability access lift, enabling a group to enter the stand.”
Sources have told ESPN that United are not expecting a points deduction for failure to fulfil a fixture because the the Premier League and Greater Manchester Police agreed with the decision to postpone the match.
The violent acts committed by a minority of supporters in the protest were condemned by the UK government. Both the club and the police have launched an investigation into events surrounding the protest, including injuries suffered by two police officers following clashes while protestors were moved away from the stadium.
The statement continued: “The majority of our fans have and will condemn criminal damage, along with any violence towards club staff, police or other fans, and these now become a police matter.
“The club has no desire to see peaceful protestors punished, but will work with the police to identify those involved in criminal activity, and will also issue its own sanctions to any season ticket holder or member identified, per the published sanctions policy. Information on the rescheduling of the game and any possible implication on other fixtures will be announced after discussion and agreement with the Premier League.
“We remain committed to dialogue and engagement with our fans through the fans forum and other appropriate channels.”