The Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth was abandoned and half the Old Trafford stadium evacuated after a suspicious package was found in one of the stands. However, hours later local police confirmed that the package was a terror training device that was left behjind the stadium after a training exercise and not a real bomb as first feared.
A police official said the item had “accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise.”
The match has been rearranged for Tuesday.
A Greater Manchester Police (GMP) statement read: “Shortly before today’s planned football fixture, 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.”
Police arrived on site with sniffer dogs after the decision was made to postpone the match.
The game “has been abandoned, fans are leaving the ground. Please avoid the area if possible,” Manchester police said on their Twitter account.
Tens of thousands of fans were ordered from the 75,600 capacity stadium when the alert was sounded about about 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff at 1400 GMT
United confirmed that a suspicious package had been found and sent out a tweet saying the match had been suspended.
Announcements were made on the public address system that security staff should invoke “operation red code”.
Public address announcements instructed supporters in the South and East Stands — including the travelling contingent of Bournemouth fans — to remain in their seats before the game was called off.
It is the second time in less than a week that Manchester United have been involved in a security alert.
Their game at West Ham United on Monday was delayed after their team bus was attacked by fans.
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