English Premier League giants Manchester United have alleged a national newspaper knew a group of furious fans planned to attack the house of chief executive Ed Woodward, but failed to alert police before the event.

In a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso), the club state their belief a reporter from The Sun had received “advance notice” that a group of hooded United fans planned to hurl red flares and fireworks at Mr Woodward’s home in Cheshire.

The newspaper ran a story showing clear pictures of the ‘mob’ spraying red paint on the gates of the £2 million mansion before throwing a smoke bomb over a fence surrounding the property.

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Sections of the Old Trafford support have become increasingly vitriolic towards Woodward in recent weeks after a poor run of form left United six points off a top four place.

Woodward, who took over after Sir Alex Ferguson departed the club in 2013, has presided over four permanent managers and a raft of ineffectual signings.

United fans have increasingly called for him to leave the club, but protests against his stewardship - which previously included a plane being flown over Old Trafford bearing the message ‘Woodward Out’ during a match - escalated when supporters arrived outside the gates of his home on January 28.

No one was in the home at the time of the attack.

The club has now accused The Sun of “breaching journalistic ethics” of failing to report criminal intent before it happened.

United also said the presence of a photographer and the quality of images captured on the evening in question point to the newspaper having prior knowledge of the attack.

A statement released by the club reads: “Manchester United believes that The Sun newspaper had received advance notice of the intended attack, which included criminal damage and intent to intimidate, and that the journalist was present as it happened."

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"The quality of the images accompanying the story indicate that a photographer was also present.

“Not only did the journalist fail to discharge the basic duty of a responsible member of society to report an impending crime and avert potential danger and criminal damage, his presence both encouraged and rewarded the perpetrators. We believe that this was a clear breach of both the Ipso Editors' code and journalistic ethics.”

It added: “The decision to make a formal complaint to Ipso was not taken lightly. We will await its ruling with keen interest as an important test of the self-regulatory system for newspapers and its ability to uphold ethical standards in the press.”