Manchester United have released a statement outlining ‘the facts’ surrounding the evacuation of Old Trafford on Sunday.
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement released by the club: “The safety of the fans is our number one aim at every event we host at Old Trafford. Overall, I’m proud of how our staff responded.”
Following intense speculation as to what happened at the stadium on Sunday which led to the cancellation of United’s final home game of the season versus AFC Bournemouth, Woodward outlined the following points:
• On the discovery of a suspect package, the police and the club worked quickly and closely to identify the threat, make people safe and evacuate the ground calmly and efficiently.
• Fans of both clubs behaved impeccably and the evacuation – the first of its type in the UK – was a complete success.
• Following investigation, the device proved to have been left in error following the training of dog handlers by a sub contractor.
• The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise.
• That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine matchday search of the 100 Club, as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.
He added: “Once a live situation was identified, the club and police had no option but to treat the matter as a potential terror threat; we could not have assumed it was a training exercise error. Presented with the same situation in the future, we would take the same action.
“We have worked very closely with the police and counter-terrorism specialists for many years now and enjoy their support on a daily basis.
“For tomorrow’s (Tuesday) rearranged match against Bournemouth, we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that robust security measures continue to be of the highest priority.
“We are conducting a detailed evaluation with the help of the police and will share our findings across the rest of the game. Valuable lessons will have been learned from yesterday’s events and it is important that those are shared with other stadium operators to ensure that the safety of the public remains the first duty of us all.”