Old Trafford evacuation: Fake bomb 'logged as found'

Bomb disposal experts Image copyright PA
Image caption Bomb disposal experts arriving at 75,000 capacity Old Trafford on Sunday

The security firm that staged a training exercise which caused a Premier League match at Old Trafford to be postponed had signed off a fake bomb as recovered, Manchester United claims.

Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd (SSMS) was hired by Deacons Canines to test its dog handlers.

But a device was left behind, leading to the postponement of Manchester United's match against Bournemouth.

Earlier SSMS said it was "an unfortunate situation".

The device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on match day as it contained no explosives, a club statement said.

Old Trafford was evacuated and the match against Bournemouth was called off when a "suspect package" was found in one of the toilet blocks on Sunday.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stewards evacuating supporters from the 75,000 capacity Old Trafford

Manchester United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said: "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 match day search of the 100 Club as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers, not dogs."

Mr Woodward said: "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."

SSMS managing director Chris Reid said: "It is a very unfortunate situation and the consequences obviously were that a lot of people were inconvenienced.

"Fortunately, everybody was fine which is the most important thing."

Calls have been made for an inquiry into Sunday's "fiasco".

Supporters were evacuated from the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson Stand close to the 15:00 BST kick-off after the device was found in the quadrant between the two stands.

The game was abandoned at about 15:15.

A controlled explosion was carried out on the item which was found by a member of staff in a toilet block.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Police sniffer dogs were used at Old Trafford as part of the security check

Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd called for a full inquiry and demanded answers to find out "how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable".

"I think United have to come up front with all this because in the end it's their reputation, but it's also public safety and both those two really do matter.

"This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the Army's bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk," said Mr Lloyd.

"Whilst this in no way demeans the professionalism of the police and stewards responsible for getting the fans out, or the supporters' calmness and co-operation during the evacuation, it is unacceptable that it happened in the first place."

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