Graeme Souness has reacted furiously after a torch and bottle of beer were thrown at pundits as part of fan demonstrations that dramatically delayed the Manchester United vs Liverpool match.
Souness spoke as an expert alongside former United captain Roy Keane and ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards on a raised podium at Old Trafford, with icons of United and Liverpool in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher pitchside.
And while Neville and Carragher defended the fans’ right to protest, the former Liverpool captain underscored his feelings about the minority of protesters who turned violent during their storming of Old Trafford and threw the items at the pundits.
Graeme Souness criticized protesters throwing things at Sky Sports pundits at Old Trafford
Angry protesters broke into Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium on Sunday afternoon
Some of those who broke in started with flares, climbed the crossbar, and threw objects at experts
A fan grabbed the corner flag as protesters stormed the Old Trafford field before the game
Crowds breaking Old Trafford’s perimeter gathered in front of the south grandstand (top)
Souness claimed a torch and a bottle of beer was launched to experts, including himself
STATEMENT BY THE MANCHESTER UNITED CLUB
After discussions between the police, the Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, our match against Liverpool has been postponed due to safety and security concerns surrounding the protest.
Discussions will now take place with the Premier League on a revised date for the game.
Our fans are passionate about Manchester United and we fully recognize the right to free speech and peaceful protest.
However, we regret the disruption to the team and the actions that endangered other fans, staff and the police.
We thank the police for their support and will assist them in any follow-up investigations.
He said, ‘Let’s face it, someone threw an outburst at this stage today. If it hit any of us, we’d be in the hospital with scars.
‘Someone threw a bottle of beer here. If that hit you in the wrong place, you could have been killed! ‘
‘A child was killed by a torch in Cardiff. I am not massively criticizing Man United supporters, but you cannot suppress that.
‘That (flare) could have marked someone for life. We’re here saying it’s okay for them to demonstrate, but a village idiot could have killed someone here today. ‘
Neville replied, “Emotions run very high. Football in this country is now lawless, the big six bullying the rest of English football. It has to stop.
‘I accept that there are fans today who may have gone over the top, but the majority have protested peacefully. Protests must be peaceful and law-abiding. There will always be a potential flash point, there will always be.
‘The rivalry between these clubs is enormous, we know how intense it is, but there is a limit. What happened two weeks ago (with the European Super League) set the fan base on fire, it brought them back to life.
‘It is extremely powerful. Fans today have stood up for what they think is right. We don’t want to hear about disturbances today, but fans have had enough. They have had enough.
The media today can make a story about the damage and all that, but today’s story is that the fans set the spark. Will they stop another game next time? I hope they will move to something more measured, calm and pointed. ‘
Keane added: ‘This was an opportunity for United’s fans to make a huge statement. Of course, the owners of Manchester United (the Glazer family) have to sit up and pay attention.
‘Sometimes you have to put down a highlighter for people to notice, hopefully the owners will take this seriously. This is just the beginning, mark my words. This is the beginning and undoubtedly their plan is for the owners to give in and sell the club.
‘You have to cheer on United fans. When you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough – I find it hard to criticize them. Nobody gives a thumbs up for throwing bottles or torches, of course not. ‘
A police officer handles a smoke glow thrown through a glass window in Old Trafford
Tensions rose when police came in to chase away the protesters with batons drawn
Bottles and other projectiles were hurled at the police by the protesters as tensions escalated
Some fans erected barriers to hurl to the police as attempts were made to escape outside of Old Trafford
The local derby game has now been postponed and broadcaster Sky Sports has confirmed it will take place at a later date, which has yet to be decided or announced.
There were clashes as fans tried to break police lines outside the stadium, with officers pulling batons to hold back the crowds and throwing out bottles and other projectiles. A row of riot police, supported by horses, pushed the crowd back from the area where the players would enter the ground.
The storming of Old Trafford came after many more blocked the entrance to the Lowry Hotel, where United’s players and staff stay and use every weekend prior to a home game.
Representatives from the two teams and the Premier League met at 4 p.m. to discuss and discuss the situation, after which it was determined that the game could not go ahead for security reasons.
A police helicopter was deployed to keep watch after it was announced that the match was being postponed
The police cleared the ground around 4:30 pm, when the match should have started
The Manchester Evening News reported that the remaining fans “got very angry and started throwing bottles,” before the police “dressed completely in riot costume.”
Earlier, at the height of the protests, some of the crowd shouted ‘we want Glazers out’ and ‘United, United’ as they ran onto the field. Outside the Lowry, others sang “We Decide When You Play.”
Thousands had gathered in an organized demonstration outside Old Trafford against the Glazer family and their attempts to sign United to the European Super League.
United were one of six Premier League clubs to initially sign up for the doomed Super League project last month. They all withdrew 48 hours later after a furious response from the wider football community.
Joel Glazer apologized to supporters for signing up for the doomed Super League project, but many United fans wore placards at the protest saying ‘apology not accepted’.
The full Premier League statement
This is a collective decision by the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.
“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains a top priority.
We understand and respect the power of feeling, but condemn all acts of violence, criminal harm and wrongdoing, especially given the associated Covid-19 violations.
Fans have many channels to express their views, but the minority actions we see today are unjustified.
“We sympathize with the police and stewards who have faced a dangerous situation that does not belong in football.”