More viewers tuned into Sky Sports coverage of Manchester United vs Liverpool – which was not played – than watched Tottenham and Arsenal’s Premier League wins on Sunday.
Around 1.4million viewers tuned in as the match at Old Trafford was initially delayed during due to an organised fan protests outside the stadium and in Manchester City centre, which started at around 2pm.
As Sky Sports started their build-up to the United match, it was announced that the match had been delayed due to supporters making their way into Old Trafford and onto the pitch to protest against the club’s ownership, the Glazer family.
More viewers tuned into Sky Sports coverage of postponed Manchester United vs Liverpool match than Arsenal’s and Tottenham’s games
Around 1.4million viewers tuned in as angry Man United fans stormed Old Trafford in protest
Despite there being no live action to broadcast, more viewers still tuned in as the Sky Sports pundits, including Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Roy Keane, Micah Richards and Graeme Souness, tried to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events, than watched the earlier and later kick-off.
Arsenal started the Super Sunday action and claimed a 2-0 victory over Newcastle at St James’ Park and Tottenham nailed relegated Sheffield United for four later on.
But the Sky Sports crew were left scrabbling as scenes continued to roll on through the afternoon and eventually the decision was made to postpone the match, with both sets of teams unable to leave their hotels due to the protests.
Greater Manchester Police confirmed two officers were left injured with one officer being ‘attacked with a bottle and sustaining a significant slash wound to his face, requiring emergency hospital treatment.’
Broadcaster Sky Sports confirmed it will go ahead at a later date, which is yet to be decided.
There were clashes as fans tried to break police lines outside the stadium, with officers drawing batons to keep the crowds back and bottles and other projectiles thrown. A line of riot police, backed by horses, pushed the crowds back from the area where the players were set to enter the ground.
The storming of Old Trafford came after many more blockaded the entrance to the Lowry Hotel where the United players and staff are staying and use each weekend prior to a home fixture.
One fan among those who stormed Old Trafford grabbed the corner flag as they stormed pitch
Tensions escalated when police moved in to move the protestors away from the Old Trafford forecourt with batons drawn
Some fans lifted red barriers to hurl at the police lines as efforts were made to clear the Old Trafford exterior
Hundreds of Manchester United fans have stormed the pitch at Old Trafford in protest at the club’s American owners ahead of Sunday afternoon’s match with Liverpool
Representatives from the two teams and the Premier League came together to convene and discuss the situation at 4pm, after which it was determined that for safety reasons the fixture could not press ahead.
Both teams were held back at their team hotel by Greater Manchester Police, while match referee Michael Oliver was also delayed in accessing the ground.
While on air, former Manchester United captain Roy Keane supported the cause of the protests and insisted that it is just the beginning from the fanbase.
Speaking on Sky Sports, Keane said: ‘They’re doing it because they love the club and it’s not what has happened over the last few weeks with the Super League.
‘I think it’s been building for a number of years now, that frustration, and they’ve come to the end and thought “enough is enough”.
Roy Keane has insisted Manchester United fans will keep protesting until the Glazers sell up
United supporters are trying to drive Joel Glazer (right) and Avram Glazer (left) out of the club
‘It’s been building up over the last few years – disappointment in communication, stuff going on in the backroom, tickets, whatever it might be.
‘The leadership of the club has not been good enough, when they look at the owners and feel it’s just about making money. The statement today is huge for the game to be called off.
‘Sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice and this will go all over the world now and people will have to sit up and take note.
‘Hopefully the owners of Man United will say “these fans are deadly serious” and there’s more to come. This is just the start of it for United fans, mark my words.
‘This is just the start for United fans and their plan is for the United owners to give in and sell the club.’
Although Keane’s fellow pundits Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville defended the grounds upon which the protests had started, United fans were criticised by Graeme Souness for throwing projectiles.
Greame Souness criticised the United fans who threw flares and bottles during the protest
Souness said: ‘Let’s be honest, someone threw a flare up to this stage today. If it hit one of us, we would be in the hospital and scarred.
‘Someone threw a bottle of beer up here. If that hits you the wrong place, you could have been killed!
‘A kid was killed in Cardiff by a flare. I am not criticising Man United supporters en masse, but you cannot underplay that.
‘That (flare) could have marked someone for life. We’re sitting here saying it’s right they’re demonstrating but a village idiot could have killed someone here today.’