United had been prepared for thousands of supporters to protest outside Old Trafford ahead of kickoff on Sunday, but scenes escalated after a number made it onto the pitch.
This comes during the fallout of the Super League fiasco, with United’s owners, the Glazer family, seeing their already paper-thin backing fade completely, with fans calling for the sale of the club.
Almost an hour before the initial kickoff time, the teams had not left their respective hotels to report to the stadium, while referee Michael Oliver had been turned away and media were not permitted access.
The Premier League‘s statement on the postponement reads:
“Following the security breach at Old Trafford, the Manchester United vs. Liverpool game has been postponed.
This is a collective decision from the police, both clubs, the Premier League and local authorities.
The security and safety of everyone at Old Trafford remains of paramount importance. 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. Fans have many channels by which to make their views known, but the actions of a minority seen today have no justification.
We sympathise with the police and stewards who had to deal with a dangerous situation that should have no place in football.
The rearrangement of the fixture will be communicated in due course.”
Teamsheets were released at 3.30pm BST as planned, but fears over COVID-19 restrictions initially looked to have forced kickoff to be pushed back only for the fixture to be postponed.
The clash has not yet been given another date, but it is likely to take place on Monday evening.
With United playing later in mid-week in a Europa League semi-final and the final four Premier League fixtures still to navigate, there are few, if any, other alternative times for the game to take place.
A statement from United acknowledged the fans’ “right to free expression and peaceful protest” but the club “regret the disruption to the team and actions which put other fans, staff, and the police in danger.”