The biggest Premier League football game – Manchester United vs Liverpool – was postponed after about 200 fans broke into Old Trafford to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club.
The fixture was scheduled to kick off at 16:30 BST on Sunday but was called off after United fans made a mess of the pitch and security raised concerns around the safety of the players and staff.
“This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities,” the Premier League announced.
It is the first time a Premier League match has been postponed because of fan protests.
Fans had gathered outside the ground and there were scores of green and gold flares – the colours of United’s first shirts when they were formed as Newton Heath in 1878 – and of the original anti-Glazer protests in 2010 – were set off at 14:00 BST.
The protests come as a direct result of the owners’ decision, along with five fellow Premier League clubs, to join a breakaway European Super League (ESL) last month, before subsequently pulling out.
Supporters are currently not allowed into the grounds because of the coronavirus pandemic but some United fans broke into the stadium and onto the Old Trafford pitch to protest.
“The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance,” added the Premier League.
“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.
“We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football.”
The Football Association will be liaising with United, the Premier League and safety authorities to find out what exactly happened and the reasons for it.
Both clubs had submitted their team line-ups for the highly anticipated fixture but neither had left their hotels to go to the ground prior to the game being called off at just an hour after the kickoff time.
United fans had also gathered at the Lowry Hotel where the Manchester United players were staying before the match, which did not allow the team to even leave the hotel.
There are reports of Bruno Fernandes, Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic being keen on having a running dialogue with the fans but the club officials did not allow them to do so, which left the players furious.
With this delay, United will now turn to the second leg of the Europa League semifinal against AS Roma. United won the first leg 6-2 at Old Trafford so it seems highly unlikely for them to fail to reach the finals of the competition for a second time.
This will be Solskjaer’s first final as United manager if they do manage to hold onto this 4-goal advantage after losing in 4 semifinals prior to this.