Bomb scare scuppers Man United game1,382 views
MANCHESTER: Bomb disposal experts conducted a controlled explosion at Old Trafford on Sunday (May 15) following the discovery of a suspicious package that scuppered Manchester United’s final Premier League game of the season against Bournemouth.
Tens of thousands of supporters were led from their seats approximately 20 minutes before the scheduled 3.00pm (1400 GMT) kick-off in the 75,600-capacity stadium.
Manchester United tweeted five minutes after the match was supposed to kick off that a “suspect package was found in the North West Quadrant” and said police were inspecting. It later announced that the match was abandoned on police advice.
Bournemouth tweeted that the match was abandoned “due to safety fears”, while Manchester police tweeted that the game “has been abandoned, fans are leaving the ground. Please avoid the area if possible.”
Announcements were made on the public address system that security staff should invoke “operation red code”.
Half of the stands at Old Trafford were evacuated and United later confirmed that a suspicious package had been discovered in the Stretford End stand.
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.
The Premier League issued a statement, saying the match was abandoned as a last resort and that it would rearrange the fixture as soon as possible.
Army specialists were called and police later announced that “a controlled explosion has just been carried out within the stadium by bomb disposal experts at Old Trafford”. There was no immediate word on whether the device was a bomb.
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 Tuesday was delayed after their team bus was attacked by home fans.
Louis van Gaal’s side went into Sunday’s match seeking a victory that would give them a chance of finishing fourth, and thus qualifying for next season’s Champions League, although Manchester City’s 1-1 draw at Swansea has made that eventually almost impossible.
There was no initial indication of the seriousness of the incident but by the scheduled kick-off, stewards outside the ground were telling supporters that the game had been abandoned and, within minutes, the decision was confirmed by police.
People who remained inside the stadium were told to stay in their seats “while the forecourt is cleared of fans already evacuated from the stadium”.
The club held up announcing the decision to fans remaining in two other stands for another 10 minutes, to avoid congestion outside the ground. By 3.15pm, the remaining parts of Old Trafford were evacuated.
Soldiers from the British Army’s ‘bomb squad’ were then sent to Old Trafford.
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare of Greater Manchester Police said: “We are doing everything we can to investigate this item as quickly as possible, however our priority is obviously to ensure the safety of everyone in the stadium and surrounding area.
“As a result, today’s game has been abandoned and a controlled evacuation of the stadium has now taken place.” He added: “We are awaiting the imminent arrival of military colleagues to come and support us and establish what exactly we are dealing with.”
With Manchester United playing Crystal Palace in Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley, it may be more than a week before the Bournemouth match takes place.
A statement issued by the Premier League said they would “seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and will advise fans accordingly”.
Although Bournemouth are safe from the threat of relegation and cannot qualify for Europe, Sunday’s match was not without significance for the south coast side.
Eddie Howe’s men, who started the weekend in 16th place, were looking to completed a league double over United, with the amount of prize money they receive dependent on where they finish in the table.
News Source ChannelNewsAsia