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fan power Explainer: Why Man United's clash with Liverpool was postponed, and what happens next?

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Manchester United fans protest against their owners before the club's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

Manchester United fans protest against their owners before the club's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

Manchester United fans protest against their owners before the club's Premier League clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo: Reuters/Carl Recine

Manchester United's Premier League clash against Liverpool was called off after fans broke into Old Trafford in protest against the Glazer family - here's all you need to know on the background of the protest and what is likely to happen next.

What happened?

In one of the most controversial moments in Premier League history on Sunday, the clash between bitter rivals Manchester United and Liverpool was postponed.

Why?

As had been mooted for a number of weeks, United fans had planned to protest against the Glazer family before the high profile fixture. When the fans descended on Old Trafford a group broke into the ground at approximately 2.0pm and invaded the pitch. The crowd then left the ground and the match, scheduled for 4.30pm, was still due to go ahead.

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Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poses for a picture with Avram Glazer (right), owner of Manchester United. Photo: Michael Regan

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poses for a picture with Avram Glazer (right), owner of Manchester United. Photo: Michael Regan

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer poses for a picture with Avram Glazer (right), owner of Manchester United. Photo: Michael Regan

Meanwhile, at United's pre-match base - the Lowry hotel in central Manchester - another group of fans protested, delaying the team's trip to Old Trafford.

Back at Old Trafford, another group of United fans broke into the stadium again and invaded the pitch, shouting anti-Glazer slogans as a large crowd gathered outside.

Why were they protesting?

United fans had protested against the sale of the club to US businessman Malcolm Glazer in 2004. However, in 2005, Glazer became the majority shareholder of the club, buying out Cubic Expression, the holding company of Irish businessmen John Magnier and JP McManus.

Despite remaining successful under manager Alex Ferguson in the early says of the Glazer era, United fans have never accepted the Glazers as owners, primarily because they loaded the club with huge debts to buy the club.

By the time Malcolm Glazer died in 2014 at the age of 85, his sons - primarily Joel, Avram and Brian - had taken the reins but the club remains mired in debt.

The recent failed European Super League - of which the Glazers were prime movers - was the last straw for many United supporters who are now demanding a '50+1' model, whereby the fans own 51 per cent of the club and as a result, have a main say in the direction of the club.

Who made the decision to postpone the game?

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In consultation with the Greater Manchester Police, United announced at 5.35pm that the game would be postponed "due to safety and security considerations around the protest".

What did the experts say?

With Roy Keane joined by Graeme Souness and Micah Richards in the Sky Sports studio and Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher pitchside at Old Trafford, there was plenty of comment on the event. Former United captain Keane suggested that the fans had "had enough" of the Glazers and believed that a protest of this nature was inevitable.

Neville, meanwhile, suggested that the Glazers weren't financially capable of running the club any more, referencing the lack of upgrades at Old Trafford recently and parts of the ground that have become ramshackle and "rusty", the lack of development around the ground, the club's training facility which, Neville believes, isn't in the top five in the country and the fact that the club's lack of success lately suggests that it's time the Glazer family sold up.

What happens next?

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Roy Keane in his role as Sky Sports' Premier League pundit

Roy Keane in his role as Sky Sports' Premier League pundit

Roy Keane in his role as Sky Sports' Premier League pundit

While no new date has been set for the postponed fixture, there are many strands to what happened on Sunday.

The question over whether the Glazer family will sell up depends on their desire to sell and the offer, if any, to buy them out.

With the club valued at approximately £3billion, it will take a huge offer to remove the current owners.

With supporters groups requesting the Glazers to make their shares available to buy, the depth of the fans' pockets could be put to the test in the coming months.

A consortium, known as the Red Knights - in effect a group of investors who are United fans led by Lord O'Neill and Paul Marshall - could be the best option to remove the Glazers.

With more protests likely in the coming weeks and months, it seems United's core of supporters will not rest until the Glazers are gone.

Also, Greater Manchester Police are launching an investigation after an officer was left needing emergency hospital treatment.

Outside the ground, bottles and barriers were thrown at police officers and horses. Two officers were injured, with one "attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment", Greater Manchester Police said.

GMP assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said it was clear many demonstrators had no intention of protesting peacefully as he condemned their "reckless and dangerous" behaviour.

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Manchester United fans protest against the club's owners before the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match

Manchester United fans protest against the club's owners before the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match

Manchester United fans protest against the club's owners before the Manchester United v Liverpool Premier League match

What did the club say?

A Manchester United club 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."

The Premier League said it understood the fans' "strength of feeling", but condemned "all acts of violence, criminal damage and trespass, especially given the associated Covid-19 breaches".

It added: "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."

Liverpool, another founding member of the Super League, said they were in "full agreement" with the postponement.

What did the supporters say?

Manchester United Supporters Trust wants the Government to act to prevent single private shareholders holding majority ownerships in football clubs.

It said in a statement: "On the back of the indefensible ESL proposals, and an 'apology' from the Glazers which we do not accept, we need to give fans a meaningful share in the ownership of United and a meaningful voice in how it is run.

"The Government now needs to act. That has to mean a process which results in fans having the opportunity to buy shares in their club and more to the point no single private shareholder holding a majority ownership of our football clubs which allows them to abuse that ownership."

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