Greater Manchester Police have confirmed the suspicious package found inside Old Trafford on Sunday was, in fact, a training device which had been left behind by a private company.
The unnamed company in question had conducted a training exercise involving search dogs at Manchester United’s home ground and, incredibly, left behind one of their dummy bombs inside the stadium.
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A controlled explosion was carried out on the device, which police described as “incredibly lifelike”.
The embarrassing truth then emerged later on Sunday night, leaving questions over how such a serious incident could have occurred.
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GM Police statement
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare from Greater Manchester Police said: “I am grateful to the Manchester United and Bournemouth supporters for their support and assistance today.
“Following today’s controlled explosion, 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 explosive search dogs.
“Whilst 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.
“Everyone remained calm, followed instructions, and worked with officers and stewards to ensure that a safe evacuation was quickly completed. Those present today were a credit to the football family and their actions should be recognised.
“I would also like to thank all those involved in the operation today for such a professional response, which includes police officers, stewards, MUFC staff, media representatives and commentators and the Bomb Disposal Team.”
Ed Woodward statement
Ed Woodward, Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman, added: "The safety of fans is always our highest priority.
"I'd like to thank the support from the police which was first class and the impeccable response from fans of both teams.
"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."
Fixture rearranged for Tuesday night
Manchester United will now play their rearranged fixture against Bournemouth at Old Trafford on Tuesday night at 8pm - four days before their FA Cup final against Crystal Palace at Wembley Stadium.
United have offered to refund their fans after the bomb scare, according to the Mirror, with free entry available for the rearranged fixture.
It’s set to cost the Premier League giants in the region of £3 million.
How did Manchester United and the police handle Sunday’s incident? Have your say by leaving a comment below.