The Glazer family’s first visit to Old Trafford ended in ugly and violent scenes last night as police clashed with supporters who had effectively barricaded Manchester United’s new owners inside the stadium.
Malcolm Glazer’s three sons, Joel, Avi and Bryan, were given first-hand experience of the vitriol generated by their controversial takeover as they had to be smuggled down the players’ tunnel and out of the ground in two police tactical aid vans for their own safety.
United fans then sat in the road, forcing the vehicles to stop. When some of the 400 supporters started hammering on the vans and pelting them with stones, police officers used dogs and batons to clear a path.
It provided a farcical if troubling finale to a chaotic day at Old Trafford. United officials had initially indicated that the Glazers – unaccompanied by their father – would not be visiting the stadium following their talks on Tuesday with the sports minister Richard Caborn and officials from the Premier League and the Football Association.
That proved to be little more than a smokescreen and, with confirmation that the three brothers, the chief executive David Gill and the commercial director Andy Anson had arrived at the ground in three silver people carriers at around 6.15 last night, disgruntled fans began gathering.
Their presence prompted a huge security operation. The club employed their own new 8ft high steel gates to keep the increasingly frustrated crowds away from the directors’ entrance, though the fans wasted little time in building their own makeshift barriers across roads, effectively laying the new owners under siege.
Supporters launched angry chants of “Die, die Glazer” and “We’ll be running round Old Trafford with his head” while the Glazers themselves enjoyed a stroll around the pitch and met various members of staff.
Rovell ought to remember that Glazer didn’t use his own cash on hand to purchase United. He’s borrowed heavily to increase his stake and there are legit reasons for fans to worry about how that debt will be paid down.