Old Trafford device was 'left in error' say Greater Manchester Police
By Sky Sports News HQ
Last Updated: 16/05/16 10:47am
A suspicious item found at Old Trafford on Sunday, which caused Manchester United's game against Bournemouth to be postponed, has now been identified as 'a training device left in error'.
According to Greater Manchester Police, the device had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive sniffer dogs held last Wednesday.
Shortly before the final league game of the season was due to kick-off at 3pm, ground staff alerted police to a suspicious item that had been found in the toilets within the North West quadrant, between the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End.
Initially, a partial evacuation of the stadium was put in place but a decision was made between police and Manchester United club officials to abandon the game and a full controlled evacuation of the stadium was undertaken.
A controlled explosion was then carried out on the suspect package which was described as an 'incredibly realistic-looking' explosive device.
Assistant Chief Constable John O'Hare from Greater Manchester Police said: "I am grateful to the Manchester United and Bournemouth supporters for their support and assistance today.
"Following today's controlled explosion, we have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs.
"Whilst this item did not turn out to be a viable explosive, on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk.
"Everyone remained calm, followed instructions, and worked with officers and stewards to ensure that a safe evacuation was quickly completed. Those present today were a credit to the football family and their actions should be recognised.
"I would also like to thank all those involved in the operation today for such a professional response, which includes police officers, stewards, MUFC staff, media representatives and commentators and the Bomb Disposal Team."
The match has been rescheduled for Tuesday with an 8pm kick-off, and will be shown live on Sky Sports 1 HD from 7.30pm.
United executive-vice chairman Ed Woodward said: "The safety of fans is always our highest priority.
"I'd like to thank the support from the police which was first class and the impeccable response from fans of both teams.
"The club takes security very seriously and staff are regularly trained with the police and emergency services to identify and deal with these incidents. We will investigate the incident to inform future actions and decisions."