Graeme Souness has reacted furiously after a flare and a bottle of beer were thrown up at pundits as part of fan demonstrations which saw the Manchester United vs Liverpool match dramatically postponed.
Souness was speaking as a pundit alongside former United captain Roy Keane and ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards on a raised stage inside Old Trafford, with United and Liverpool icons in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher pitchside.
And while Neville and Carragher defended the fans’ right to protest, the former Liverpool captain underlined his feelings on the minority of protesters who turned violent during their storming of Old Trafford and threw the items at the pundits.
Graeme Souness criticised protesters who threw things at Sky Sports pundits at Old Trafford
Angry protesters broke into Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium on Sunday afternoon
Bottles and other projectiles were hurled at police from the protesters as tensions escalated
He 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.’
Some of those who broke in set off flares, climbed on the crossbar and threw items at pundits
Souness claimed a flare and a bottle of beer were launched towards pundits including himself
Neville responded: Emotions are running really high. Football in this country now is lawless, the big six are bullying the rest of English football. It needs to stop.
‘I accept there are fans today who may have gone over the top, but the majority have peacefully protested. Protests have to be peaceful and law-abiding. There will always be a potential flashpoint, that will always happen.
‘The rivalry between these clubs is huge, we know how intense it is, but there is a line. What happened two weeks ago (with the European Super League) has ignited the fanbase, it’s brought them back to life.’
‘It’s extremely powerful. Fans have stood up today for what they think is right. We don’t want to hear about disturbances today but fans have had enough. They’ve had enough.
‘The media can make a story today about the damage and stuff but the story today is that the fans have set the spark. Will they stop another game next time? I hope they’ll move towards something more measured, calm and pointed.’
Keane added: ‘This was an opportunity for the United fans to make a huge statement. Of course the Manchester United owners (the Glazer family) have to sit up and take notice.
‘Sometimes you have to put a marker down for people to take notice, hopefully the owners will take this seriously. This is just the start of it, mark my words. This is the start of it and their plan no doubt is for the owners to give in and sell the club.
‘You have to applaud United fans. When you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough – I find it hard to criticise them. No one’s giving a thumbs up for throwing bottles or flares, of course not.’
More to follow.
The full Premier League statement
‘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.’