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Old Trafford pre-match protest fails to materialise

Old Trafford pre-match protest fails to materialise
© Reuters
The match was also a potential test for security.

A pre-match protest failed to materialise as Manchester United supporters attended a game at Old Trafford for the first time in over a year on Tuesday.

A crowd of up to 10,000 was anticipated as United hosted Fulham in their first game since Covid-19 restrictions were eased in step three of the Government's road map out of lockdown in England.

The match was also a potential test for security after recent demonstrations by fans against the ownership of the Glazer family led to the postponement of United's Premier League game against Liverpool earlier this month.

United fans held up anti-Glazer placards but there was no significant demonstration prior to kick-off
United fans held up anti-Glazer placards but there was no significant demonstration prior to kick-off (Paul Ellis/PA)

There were further protests at the rearranged fixture last week but, on this occasion, there were no significant gatherings.

The 10-foot steel fence placed at the entrance of the Munich Tunnel to keep fans out of recent games was replaced by turnstiles and supporters began to file into the ground 90 minutes before the 6pm kick-off.

Those that entered were soon in good voice and the songbook was quickly dusted off, with one notable chant against executive co-chairman Joel Glazer.

There was a huge applause when the stadium announcer welcomed fans back saying, "It's not been the same without you".

There was particularly loud appreciation for Edinson Cavani – who went on to further delight fans with an early goal – and Bruno Fernandes when the teams were read out before the match.

There had been a sprinkle of green and gold before kick-off and thousands held up the anti-Glazer placards handed out by the Manchester United Supporters' Trust when the teams emerged.

The game was one of two early evening fixtures in the Premier League with Southampton v Leeds also beginning at 6pm.

Around 8,000 were in attendance at St Mary's Stadium, where they were welcomed into the ground by a marching band.

On a negative note, some boos were heard from some sections of the crowd when the players and officials all took the knee before kick-off.

Brighton were playing champions Manchester City and Chelsea hosting Leicester later in the evening.

Six further games are due to take place on Wednesday with the whole round having been rearranged to allow all clubs the chance to play one home game in front of a live crowd before the season ends on Sunday.

Under changed restrictions in England, larger seated outdoor venues are now able to admit up to 10,000 spectators, while smaller outdoor venues have capacities capped at 4,000 or 50 per cent, whichever is the lowest.

Fans also have to follow rules regarding face masks, online health checks and the maintaining of social distance to be able to attend.

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