Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, has condemned the “minority” of United fans for their behaviour and police are demanding those responsible for the injuries are brought to justice.
Several hundred fans gathered at The Lowry hotel where United players were staying on Sunday, reports Manchester Evening News. Hundreds more gathered at Old Trafford as part of protests against the Glazer family’s ownership and running of the club.
But police said demonstrators outside the ground became ‘especially aggressive and antagonistic towards police’ before a group of around 100 forced entry to the stadium.
Speaking today, Mr Burnham, 51, urged fans to “keep the focus on the behaviour of those at the top of the game”.
Mr Burnham, an Everton supporter, said: “I fully understand the long-standing concerns of Manchester United supporters about both the ownership and financing of their club and the wider running of football.
“It is important to make clear that the majority of supporters made their protest peacefully today.
“However, there is no excuse for the actions of a minority who injured police officers and endangered the safety of others.
“I send my best wishes to the police officers who have been hurt in the course of their duties this afternoon.
“This could be an important moment to change football for the better.
“We should all condemn violence of any kind and keep the focus on the behaviour of those at the top of the game.”
Flares were let off and missiles were launched at officers, including bottles and metal barriers outside Old Trafford.
Officers had to be drafted in from neighbouring forces as part of the response before the match, due to kick-off at 4.30pm, was eventually called off for “safety reasons”.
Greater Manchester Police Federation, the body which represents rank and file officers, has called for a review of the policing operation.
Stu Berry, chairman of the group, said: “We witnessed appalling scenes this afternoon – police officers are not punchbags for people protesting for their cause.
“I don’t think there’s a football fan out there who doesn’t support peaceful protest in favour of our national game.
“However, the minority who have soured those efforts with mindless violence against our colleagues must be identified and prosecuted for their actions today.
“Our thoughts are with our injured officers this evening and we hope the media can give our members the recognition they deserve.
“At the end of their shifts, hard-working police officers should be able to go home to their families in one piece. Not be rushed to hospital” he added.
“We will be seeking a review of today’s operational risk assessment and public order resources on behalf of our members.”
Following the protest , Assistant Chief Constable Russ Jackson said: “The behaviour displayed today by those at both Old Trafford and The Lowry Hotel was reckless and dangerous” as he confirmed an investigation into what happened was now underway.
“We understand the passion many supporters have for their team and we fully respect the right for peaceful protest,” he said.
“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.”
In footage taken from outside the ground, the officers are heard telling a young man to “stop resisting” as they attempt to make an arrest, dragging him behind a police van.
It then appears one officer punches the man on multiple occasions in his mid section.
The footage is filmed by bystanders. The officer can be heard shouting “get back now” to the civilians nearby.
The person filming the incident replies: “No need to touch me. I’m getting back.”
The police officer then shouts: “Do as I say”, to which the man filming responds: “I am doing as you say, no need to touch me.”