Manchester United have been hit by two UEFA charges after turning up late to their own stadium ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League encounter with Valencia.
As if things on the football side were not difficult enough, the beleaguered Reds’ preparations were hampered by the city’s traffic en route to the Group H clash.
Jose Mourinho’s men did not arrive at Old Trafford until around 7.15pm and the outfield players did not emerge for the warm-ups until 7.40pm, leading to the kick-off being put back five minutes until 8.05pm.
UEFA has now opened disciplinary proceedings against United for the “late team arrival” and “late Kick-off” to the match that ended 0-0.
Press Association Sport understands the charges are separate, with the late kick-off charge relating to the failure to meet the rearranged 8.05pm start time.
Valencia have also been charged over the late kick-off – along with other charges for the “setting off of fireworks” and a “kit infringement” – and the case will go before the UEFA Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body on October 18.
The European governing body’s regulations shows that late kick-offs bring a warning to the coach and team for the first infringement. A second infringement brings a Eur10,000 (£8,880) fine for the team and one-match under probation for the coach.
Issues relating to team arrivals can bring a warning or Eur5,000 (£4,440) fine for the second offence
United arrived late for matches at West Ham and Tottenham in 2016 under Louis van Gaal, who was United manager the last time the club went on a four-match winless streak.
Their current poor form has seen pressure mount on outspoken manager Mourinho, who blamed Greater Manchester Police for Tuesday’s late arrival.
“We left the hotel at six o’clock, hoping that 30 minutes would be enough, which normally is,” the United boss said after the 0-0 draw. “But this time the police refused to do an escort, so we come by ourselves.
“We took from the Lowry Hotel, 75 minutes. UEFA were nice, the referee was nice to allow us to start the game five minutes later because we at least need half an hour to be prepared.
“But it was not a problem with the club organisation. We anticipate everything that it could be dangerous, in the sense of arriving late, but we were informed the police refused an escort.”
GMP took umbrage with Mourinho’s response and explained they were not to blame the following morning.
Chief Inspector Andy Sutcliffe, GMP’s Silver Commander for the Manchester United v Valencia fixture, said: “All police deployments are carried out following a comprehensive risk assessment process and specifically in respect of escort team buses, are only ever undertaken on occasions when there is intelligence or information to suggest a risk of threat or harm to the players.
“GMP has previously used police vehicles to accompany a team’s coach but after a review of our core policing responsibilities, it was decided that we would no longer provide this service at every fixture.
“We consulted with the relevant football clubs over a period of months to allow them adequate time to plan ahead for their journeys to the stadium.
“Every fixture is assessed individually, and we will continue to work with all clubs to provide an appropriate policing response.”