Manchester United abandoned Sunday’s Premier League clash with Bournemouth because a dummy bomb was left in the stadium by mistake after a training exercise, according to the Daily Mail.
Old Trafford was evacuated after a mobile phone was found strapped to piping. The match, which was being broadcast live on TV, was postponed before a bomb disposal unit carried out a controlled explosion.
The results of the explosion showed the device was actually a mock-up, described by police as ‘incredibly lifelike’.
In what appears to be a staggering blunder, the ‘bomb’ was left at the stadium in error by an external training company in the days leading up to the game. A training exercise was held at the venue and the device, designed to look authentic, was not returned at its conclusion.
The match will be replayed at 8pm on Tuesday night and will be shown live on Sky Sports.
One security official, who saw the device, said: “It certainly did not look like something you would want to mess with.”
The Premier League felt abandoning the fixture had been the right course of action after discussions with both clubs and the police.
“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,’ the League said in a statement.
“It is always the last resort to abandon one of our fixtures and while we apologise for the inconvenience caused to fans we are sure, in the circumstances, they will appreciate the need to do so.”
United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: ‘The safety of fans is always our highest priority. The club takes security very seriously and staff are regularly trained with the police and emergency services to identify and deal with these incidents.
“We will investigate the incident to inform future actions and decisions.”
Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare said: ‘We have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving search dogs.
‘While this item did not turn out to be a viable explosive, on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk.’