Manchester United issued a statement clarifying that a security contractor had caused the security scare that led the abandonment of Sunday’s final Premier League game against Bournemouth. The contractor had left a training device following an exercise to train dog handlers and explosive search dogs at the stadium.
After the evacuation following the security scare, a bomb squad was deployed to the stadium to carry out a controlled explosion. Greater Manchester Police later said the suspicious item “was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs.” Before it was announced that the suspicious package was a forgotten training device, police had described it as “incredibly lifelike.”
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward yesterday issued a statement clarifying the situation that led to the security scare:
THE FULL STATEMENT
“The safety of the fans is our number one aim at every event we host at Old Trafford. Overall, I’m proud of how our staff responded.
The facts are:
• On the discovery of a suspect package, the police and the club worked quickly and closely to identify the threat, make people safe and evacuate the ground calmly and efficiently.
• Fans of both clubs behaved impeccably and the evacuation – the first of its type in the UK – was a complete success.
• Following investigation, the device proved to have been left in error following the training of dog handlers by a sub contractor.
• The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise.
• That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine matchday search of the 100 Club, as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.
“Once a live situation was identified, the club and police had no option but to treat the matter as a potential terror threat; we could not have assumed it was a training exercise error. Presented with the same situation in the future, we would take the same action.
“We have worked very closely with the police and counter-terrorism specialists for many years now and enjoy their support on a daily basis.
“For tomorrow’s (Tuesday) rearranged match against Bournemouth, we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that robust security measures continue to be of the highest priority.
“We are conducting a detailed evaluation with the help of the police and will share our findings across the rest of the game. Valuable lessons will have been learned from yesterday’s events and it is important that those are shared with other stadium operators to ensure that the safety of the public remains the first duty of us all.”