[A] suspicious item found at Old Trafford football stadium, which required a controlled explosion to be carried out, has now been identified as a training device.
Shortly before today’s planned football fixture, which was due to kick off at 3pm, staff from the Manchester United ground 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.
Police quickly attended and explosive experts were called in to assess the item, which has been described as an incredibly realistic-looking explosive device.
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 carried out.
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 explosives 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.”
Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward from Manchester United Football Club 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.”