Police officer slashed in face with bottle during protests by Man United fans

A police officer had to be treated for a slash wound to their face after being attacked with a bottle during the protests outside Old Trafford on Sunday.

Manchester United fans had stormed the stadium in protest at the club's owners ahead of their Premier League clash against Liverpool, which was delayed and eventually postponed.

What was initially a peaceful protest soon turned violent as some of the United supporters became "aggressive" towards police, before forcing their way into the ground and onto the pitch.

Man Utd staff members locked themselves in rooms inside the ground as fans breached the main building, while out on the pitch flares were let off.

Police eventually secured the stadium but scenes outside the ground soon turned hostile as fans assaulted officers and peppered them with bottles, resulting in two officers suffering injuries.

A statement by Greater Manchester Police read: "Officers were aware of a protest planned to take place in Old Trafford today (Sunday 2 May) and were working closely alongside partners to ensure those that attended were kept safe whilst enabling their right to peaceful protest.

"Early this afternoon, groups of protestors began to gather at Old Trafford and separately at The Lowry Hotel, Salford where the United players were staying. By late afternoon around 200 protestors had gathered outside the Lowry and over 1,000 at Old Trafford.

"Officers continued to closely monitor the situation, engaging with those present but as the groups grew in size; it became clear that many of those present were not intending to exercise their right to peaceful protest. Flares were let off and bottles thrown at officers.

"Protestors outside Old Trafford became especially aggressive and antagonistic towards police before a group of about 100 forced entry to the ground with some United staff having to lock themselves in rooms.

"Those in the stadium were evicted by officers but outside on the forecourt hostility grew with bottles and barriers being thrown at officers and horses. Two officers have been injured with one officer being attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment.

"With the situation increasing in hostility, additional officers had to be deployed and officers had to be drawn in from neighbouring forces to assist Greater Manchester officers.

"Following discussion with The Premier League, Trafford Council and the clubs, a joint decision was made to postpone the match for safety reasons."

Both teams had to delay their arrival at Old Trafford due to fans breaching the stadium premises, but Sky Sports' broadcast crew were already inside.

One fan even launched a flare at the pundits, who were stood on a raised platform in the stands.

Police swarmed on the stadium to try and restore order and managed to force back protestors with the help of officers mounted on horses, while also deploying their batons.

The area around the stadium was cleared to enable space for the team buses to arrive, but Man Utd's players had been stuck inside the Lowry Hotel and unable to leave.

Fans had blocked the exit routes and clashed with police, with organisers eventually taking the decision to call off the game and reschedule.

As reported by The Athletic, GMP assistant chief constable Russ Jackson said: "The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous.

"We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest. Plans were in place to ensure this could happen safely, but it soon became clear that many present had no intention of doing so peacefully.

"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.

"We have launched an investigation and we will be working closely alongside partners to ensure we establish the full circumstances surrounding today's events and prosecute those responsible."

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