Greater Manchester Police have launched an investigation after two officers were injured during disturbances at Old Trafford on Sunday.
Manchester United fans broke into the stadium and invaded the pitch in protest at the club’s owners, the Glazer family, forcing the Premier League clash with Liverpool to be postponed.
Police had to quell the protests and two officers were left injured.
One was attacked with a broken bottle, sustaining a significant slash wound to his face and requiring emergency hospital treatment.
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.
He added: “The actions of those today required us to take officers from front-line policing and call in support from neighbouring forces to prevent the disorder getting worse.
“At different points, bottles and barriers were thrown, officers assaulted and people scaled the stadium structure creating risk for themselves and officers.”
United also plan to take action against any fans found to have committed a criminal offence.
“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,” the statement continued.
“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.”
The Football Association, which is investigating the incidents at Old Trafford, took a dim view of fans’ behaviour.
“We understand their frustrations. However, we cannot condone the violent and criminal behaviour that took place before the scheduled Manchester United v Liverpool match, which the FA is now investigating,” said a statement.
The protests came in the walk of United’s involvement in the failed European Super League proposals.
United were among 12 clubs that last month signed up for the breakaway competition, which collapsed within 48 hours due to huge, unrelenting pressure.
Those plans brought anger against the already despised Glazer family to a new level, with fans congregating at both Old Trafford and the Lowry, the team hotel in the city centre, to demand change ahead of Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.
Police said that by late afternoon around 200 protesters had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at the stadium.
There was an initial unspecified delay to the scheduled 1630 kick-off before confirmation came through from United at 1735 that the match had been postponed “due to safety and security considerations around the protest”.
An earlier 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.”
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.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, said on Twitter: “It is important to make clear that the majority of supporters made their protest peacefully today. However, there is no excuse for the actions of a minority who injured police officers and endangered the safety of others.
“This could be an important moment to change football for the better. We should all condemn violence of any kind and keep the focus on the behaviour of those at the top of the game.”