Controlled explosion carried out on "not viable" Old Trafford device

A controlled explosion was carried out at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium on Sunday after a suspect package was found prior to a football match against Bournemouth.

Fans were evacuated from two of the stands before kick-off. The Premier League game was then abandoned and the stadium emptied before police approached the device.

"Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion at Old Trafford on what is described as an incredibly lifelike explosive device," Greater Manchester Police said on Twitter.

“Full assessment now concluded and found device wasn’t viable.”

A public address announcement about 30 minutes before kick-off told fans in the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson Stands to leave the stadium while the players were taken off the pitch during their warm-ups.

Supporters in the Sir Bobby Charlton and East stands were told to remain calm and stay in their seats.  Television pictures showed police with sniffer dogs walking through the stands and the abandonment was announced shortly after.

"The decision to abandon the Manchester United versus AFC Bournemouth match was taken after the police advised of the necessity to deal with a suspect package," the Premier League said in a statement. "When it comes to matters of security it is obviously right that Manchester United and the Premier League place the safety of supporters and employees foremost. "It is always the last resort to abandon one of our fixtures and while we apologize for the inconvenience caused to fans we are sure, in the circumstances, they will appreciate the need to do so.” The match could have been important for United's Champions League hopes but fourth-placed Manchester City drew 1-1 at Swansea, meaning United need to win the rearranged fixture by 19 goals to make up a three-point deficit and crucially a far inferior goal difference. United are sixth behind Southampton on goal difference and are set to play in the Europa League instead. They also face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final on Saturday. Premier League games on the final day of the season are meant to be played at the same time.

Finding a date for the rearranged game could be complicated with the Cup final on the horizon and many players then slated to join up with their national teams for Euro 2016. "The Premier League will seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and will advise fans accordingly," the league said.  

Last update: Sun, 15/05/2016 - 23:02
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