Tuesday 24 April 2018

Old Trafford 'bomb' was 'incredibly lifelike' phoney that was taped to toilet door

Police use sniffer dogs as fans are evacuated from the stadium as the match is abandoned
Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff
Police use sniffer dogs as fans are evacuated from the stadium as the match is abandoned Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff

Luke Brown and James Ducker

A farcical security blunder led to Manchester United’s final Premier League game of the season being cancelled on Sunday, after a private security firm forgot to remove a fake bomb taped to the back of a toilet door as part of a training exercise at Old Trafford.

The colossal error had sparked fears of another potential terrorist attack and resulted in the match against Bournemouth being called off as tens of thousands of fans were evacuated from one of the world’s most famous sports grounds.

It is highly likely that the private security company responsible for the incident that led to Old Trafford being evacuated are to be dumped by the club.

Security Search Management & Solutions Ltd were used to help carry out theoretical and practical dog training exercises.

The company, which are registered in Kent, were hired for the exercise by United’s usual dog trainers, Deacons Canines.

A mobile phone device wired to a piece of piping to give it the look of a real bomb was taped to the back of a toilet door in the north west quadrant of Old Trafford as part of the training drill.

But the dummy device was not removed at the end of the exercise and ended up being discovered by a member of United’s staff in the lead up to the kick-off of their scheduled game against Bournemouth.

That sparked a full scale evacuation of Old Trafford amid fears of a planned attack on the stadium and the abandonment of the game, which has been rescheduled for 8pm tomorrow.

Ed Woodward, the United executive vice chairman, has ordered a full investigation and the company involved are at serious risk of not being employed by the club again and of having any potential future contracts cancelled.

A bomb disposal unit had to be called to the ground and a controlled explosion was carried out at 4.41pm with the device described as a fake but “incredibly lifelike”.

Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner, condemned the incident as “outrageous” and a “fiasco” and demanded a full inquiry into an “unacceptable” situation that he claimed put people in “unnecessary danger” and proved a waste of police time and resources. Ander Herrera, the United midfielder, said the mood had been “very tense” in the dressing room and that players were “nervous” about the events unfolding.

This was the first time in 24 years that a Premier League match has been cancelled on security grounds and provided a dramatic, disturbing and ultimately embarrassing end to one of the most unpredictable top flight seasons in memory.

A bomb disposal unit carried out a controlled explosion after what had been described as a fake but “incredibly lifelike” bomb was discovered in the north west quadrant at Old Trafford in the run up to kick-off of a game attended by around 76,000 fans.

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