Manchester United players fear friends and family attending Monday's clash with Liverpool at Old Trafford could be targeted by furious supporters.
The Premier League fixture will see fan protests against United's owners, the Glazer family, who are accused of overseeing a decline that has left the club bottom of the table after two games of the new season.
Players often host those closest to them in private hospitality boxes but can also secure seats for guests in general admission areas of the stadium, with no separation from other matchgoing fans.
It is understood that some players in Erik ten Hag’s squad have grave reservations about giving tickets to friends and family in those areas for fear they could be targeted if United suffer another chastening night against Liverpool.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Liverpool game, Ten Hag called for unity at the club.
"I can only say the owners want to win and the fans want them behind the club," he said. "I can understand but I’m not that long in the club to see all the background. We have to fight together and be unified."
United, who have already lost to Brighton and Brentford this season, conceded nine goals in two games to their Merseyside rivals last year.
According to sources, Greater Manchester Police are currently not planning to ramp up security measures for the fixture – which is already in the highest risk category – beyond the extra resources needed for an evening match at Old Trafford.
In April 2021, the United vs Liverpool fixture was postponed after fans stormed Old Trafford protesting against the Glazers looking to take the club into the disastrous European Super League breakaway.
United supporters' group 'The 1958' have confirmed they will protest again on Monday, with the demonstration starting at 7pm at the Old Trafford forecourt. They describe the fixture as "a game for United fans to come together and show the world our deep discontent for this vile ownership".
In a statement, the group added: "[This] ownership... is systematically starving and killing the greatest football institution in world football, for greed.
"We cannot allow this to happen any longer! This is not about division, this is about unity. All United fans have the right to protest with the 1958 or individually. It is not about confrontation. Anything else plays completely into the Glazers' hands."