Manchester United have considerably increased security outside Old Trafford in the hope of avoiding further disruption from fan protests as the club prepares to play back-to-back home games against Leicester and Liverpool this week.
The original Liverpool game was called off after thousands of irate fans protesting against the Glazer family, sparked by the European Super League scandal, descended on Old Trafford. Around 200 managed to breach the stadium and ran onto the pitch, while a few hundred more based closer to the city centre also briefly blockaded the team’s pre-game hotel.
United face Leicester on Tuesday night and Liverpool just 48 hours later on Thursday. But with supporters still raging, more protests are anticipated.
The club were expecting potential disruption prior to the original Liverpool game, yet increased security efforts did little to prevent it from happening on that occasion.
Now, pictures outside Old Trafford have revealed further measures that have been put in place.
Metal fencing, seemingly stronger than that which was there prior to the last round of protests, has been erected across the forecourt to try and stop any protestors from gaining access to the stadium. The Munich Tunnel will likely be particularly well guarded as that previously proved to be the weak point, with fans forcing entry after climbing over fences there.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who famously opposed the 2005 takeover while a player at the club, has defended fans’ rights to protest and insists they must have a voice. But the Norwegian has also urged on more than one occasion that any protests must not descend into violence.
The protests ahead of the original Liverpool largely were peaceful and many of the fans gathered outside initially didn’t realise that some had broken into the stadium. But there concerns about injuries to police and protesters alike, as well as criminal damage and trespassing.