Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United Old Trafford fake bomb scare: Security companies behind 'fiasco' named

Two companies involved in training exercises linked to the fake bomb scare at Old Trafford have been named after the stadium was evacuated and Manchester United's last Premier League match of the season against Bournemouth abandoned.

Police said the match was suspended after an "incredibly lifelike but non-viable explosive device" was found in a toilet in Old Trafford's North West Quadrant.

The device, understood to be a mobile phone taped to a gas pipe, was mistakenly left behind after being used in a training exercise involving a sniffer dog team run by Deacons Canines and a security company called Security Search Management and Solutions Ltd.

Christopher Reid, owner of Security Search Management and Solutions Ltd, told The Independent he was waiting to hear back from Manchester United before he could comment.

He said: "I'm waiting for Manchester United to get back to me as to what I can and can't say.

"I'm not going to say anything because I don't want to put anybody in a situation that they shouldn't be in, including myself, without any other advice."

Deacons Canines, who hired Mr Reid's company for the training exercise, have been approached for comment.

The abandonment of Sunday's game at Old Trafford is the first time a Premier League fixture has been called off due to security concerns.

Greater Manchester's mayor and police and crime commissioner, Tony Lloyd, said Manchester United must be "up front" with answers about the "shambolic" security scare.

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He said: "What's almost impossible to understand is how in placing so many dummies for an exercise, those dummies were not counted in again and in counting them in, to find that one is missing, if that was, as I understand it on Wednesday, really people shouldn't be searching all the way through till it's found, whether on Wednesday, on Thursday, on Friday, but certainly long before 20 minutes before kick-off of a major game at a time when already tens of thousands of people were in the ground.

"I think most of us would have assumed first of all it couldn't happen and the exercise went wrong in the way it did without remedial steps long before Sunday, but actually I think it's also astonishing that there isn't a routine sweeping of the ground to find something that seemingly was discovered quite easily once the sweep was taking place 20 minutes before kick-off, but far too late on."

An "Operation Code Red" was enacted by Old Trafford's match day operations and security team at 2.40pm when the suspect device was discovered.

The discovery prompted the evacuation of the Stretford End and North Stand before confirmation the match would be abandoned was issued at 3.15pm.

Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on the device in the North West Quadrant of the ground around 4.30pm.

Premier League clubs have noticeably stepped up security measures amid a heightened state of alert throughout the UK, especially in the wake of the Paris attacks last November.

Bournemouth's players flew home around two hours after the initial "Code Red" alert sounded, as damage to the stadium caused by the controlled explosives made playing the match on Monday impossible.

The game has been rearranged for Tuesday at 8pm, four days after United play Crystal Palace at Wembley in the FA Cup Final.


Independent News Service


From Belfast Telegraph