12152017

Manchester United match against Bournemouth cancelled over suspect package

The dramatic evacuation of tens of thousands of fans from Old Trafford sparked when a mobile phone connected to wiring was found abandoned in a toilet during Manchester United’s final-day clash with Bournemouth this afternoon was the result of an ‘elaborate hoax’, it is understood.

The Premier League game was originally scheduled to kick-off at 3pm but was hastily pushed back to 3.45pm and later cancelled altogether when officials discovered an ‘incredibly lifelike explosive device’ consisting of a mobile phone and piping in a toilet cubicle.

Bomb disposal experts were called in to examine the device and fans were told to stay away from the 76,000-seater stadium while detectives and sniffer dogs investigated the scene and a controlled explosion was carried out on the suspect package.

Sportsmail now understands that the results of the controlled explosion point towards the device being an elaborate hoax and police are expected to launch a wide-ranging investigation to find the culprit.

One security official, who saw the device, said: ‘It certainly did not look like something you would want to mess with.’

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A bomb disposal vehicle arrives at Old Trafford during the evacuation of the 76,000-seater stadium ahead of the Premier League final-day clash between Manchester United and Bournemouth this afternoon following the discovery of an 'incredibly lifelike explosive device'

A bomb disposal vehicle arrives at Old Trafford during the evacuation of the 76,000-seater stadium ahead of the Premier League final-day clash between Manchester United and Bournemouth this afternoon following the discovery of an ‘incredibly lifelike explosive device’

Bomb experts were sent to the Manchester stadium to investigate what is thought to be a suspect mobile phone device and wiring which was found in a toilet cubicle in the ground. Officials initially feared it to be an explosive device but later said it appeared to be a hoax

Bomb experts were sent to the Manchester stadium to investigate what is thought to be a suspect mobile phone device and wiring which was found in a toilet cubicle in the ground. Officials initially feared it to be an explosive device but later said it appeared to be a hoax

The Sky Sports team which was working inside the ground were also told to evacuate and had to broadcast some of the programme outside. The pundits are seen above reporting from outside Old Trafford while the bomb disposal van arrives at the 76,000-seater stadium

The Sky Sports team which was working inside the ground were also told to evacuate and had to broadcast some of the programme outside. The pundits are seen above reporting from outside Old Trafford while the bomb disposal van arrives at the 76,000-seater stadium

A team of sniffer dogs were sent round the stadium hunting for clues that would help detectives in their investigation at the ground

A team of sniffer dogs were sent round the stadium hunting for clues that would help detectives in their investigation at the ground

Sniffer dogs search the West Stand after stands were evacuated before the football match between Manchester United and Bournemouth

Sniffer dogs search the West Stand after stands were evacuated before the football match between Manchester United and Bournemouth

At around 3.20pm the remaining fans from all the stands began to filter out of the ground - with the stadium's PA system informing supporters of the latest information. The final-day Premier League clash has now been postponed until an as yet unconfirmed date

At around 3.20pm the remaining fans from all the stands began to filter out of the ground – with the stadium’s PA system informing supporters of the latest information. The final-day Premier League clash has now been postponed until an as yet unconfirmed date

A bag is searched in the stands prior to the match being abandoned at Old Trafford which has a capacity for almost 76,000 people

A bag is searched in the stands prior to the match being abandoned at Old Trafford which has a capacity for almost 76,000 people

Police and sniffer dogs were in the ground after they were told about the package which could be a mobile phone device 

Police and sniffer dogs were in the ground after they were told about the package which could be a mobile phone device 

A suspect package was identified in the north-west corner of the ground, according to reports. Police and sniffer dogs are investigating 

A suspect package was identified in the north-west corner of the ground, according to reports. Police and sniffer dogs are investigating 

Manchester United's official Twitter account confirmed that a suspect package was found and the match was abandoned earlier 
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that a controlled explosion by bomb disposal experts was carried out within the stadium

Manchester United’s Twitter account and Greater Manchester Police confirmed that a suspect package was found and a controlled explosion carried out. The match was abandoned before it even started with officials sending tens of thousands of fans home

Manchester United's official Twitter account confirmed an 'incredibly lifelike explosive device' was found and safely detonated by officials
Manchester United's official Twitter account confirmed an 'incredibly lifelike explosive device' was found and safely detonated by officials

Manchester United’s official Twitter account confirmed an ‘incredibly lifelike explosive device’ was found and safely detonated by officials

The decision to abandon the game was taken by the club and the Football Association, following a consultation with the police.

Officers are said to have been thankful and impressed by the calm response to the evacuation by supporters.

A picture of the device was taken before the controlled explosion and is expected to be used as evidence, should an arrest and charges follow.

Greater Manchester Police confirmed this evening: ‘Full assessment now concluded and found device wasn’t viable. A full search of the stadium is ongoing.’

A source added: ‘If it is a hoax, it is a very good one.’

The device is not thought to have been big enough to put players in the south stand under threat, and the decision was made to keep them there until supporters left the stadium and surrounding area.

Police told fans to stay away as detectives and sniffer dogs flooded the stadium to carry out their investigations.

Ordnance experts were needed to inspect the mobile phone and they carried out an controlled explosion at around 4.45pm.

Police and sniffer dogs were deployed to the ground, which has an almost 76,000 capacity, after they were told about the package.

Manchester United's Marcus Rashford leaves Old Trafford following the security alert earlier this afternoon which is thought to be a hoax

Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford leaves Old Trafford following the security alert earlier this afternoon which is thought to be a hoax

Manchester United's David De Gea (left) and Ander Herrera (right) leave Old Trafford after the game is abandoned ahead of the match

Manchester United’s David De Gea (left) and Ander Herrera (right) leave Old Trafford after the game is abandoned ahead of the match

Police on horseback were drafted in to help control the crowds and were directing people away from the stadium during the evacuation

Police on horseback were drafted in to help control the crowds and were directing people away from the stadium during the evacuation

A police officer directs fans away from the ground
A fan cradles a small child in his arms as he leaves Old Trafford

A fan cradles a small child in his arms (right) while police officers direct tens of thousands of fans away from the ground (left) earlier today

Tens of thousands of fans pile out of Old Trafford this afternoon after the game had to be abandoned due to a suspect package found

Tens of thousands of fans pile out of Old Trafford this afternoon after the game had to be abandoned due to a suspect package found

Old Trafford was evacuated just minutes before kick-off due to a security alert when officials discovered a suspicious package in a toilet

Old Trafford was evacuated just minutes before kick-off due to a security alert when officials discovered a suspicious package in a toilet

A steward evacuates fans from the ground prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford

A steward evacuates fans from the ground prior to the Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford

Empty stands at Old Trafford following the evacuation of the 76,000-seater stadium this afternoon due to a 'code red' security warning

Empty stands at Old Trafford following the evacuation of the 76,000-seater stadium this afternoon due to a ‘code red’ security warning

Fire engines and police officers were scrambled to Old Trafford alongside bomb disposal units after the suspect device was discovered

Fire engines and police officers were scrambled to Old Trafford alongside bomb disposal units after the suspect device was discovered

Dozens of police officers were scrambled to the scene after a 'Code Red' warning was issued following the discovery of a suspect device

Dozens of police officers were scrambled to the scene after a ‘Code Red’ warning was issued following the discovery of a suspect device

Stewards ushered around 20,000 from The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End when the warning was announced around 30 minutes before kick off.

At about 3.20pm, the remaining fans from all the stands began to filter out of the ground – with the stadium’s PA system informing supporters of the latest information.

Assistant chief constable John O’Hare 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.’

The Barclays Premier League released a statement on Twitter: ‘The decision to abandon the Manchester United versus AFC Bournemouth match was taken after the police advised of the necessity to deal with a suspect package. 

‘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 Premier League will seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and will advise fans accordingly. It is always the last resort to abandon one of our fixtures and while we apologies for the inconvenience caused to fans we are sure, in the circumstances, they will appreciate the need to do so.’

Sports commentator Stan Collymore tweeted about the match and the suspicious package - telling fans that police were dealing with it 
Supporters took to Twitter to describe the scenes inside the Manchester stadium as it was evacuated by officials

Sports commentator Stan Collymore tweeted about the suspicious package while others revealed the ‘Code Red’ warning has been issued

Fans on Twitter had concerns that a suspect package managed to get into the stadium but were glad that people appeared to be safe 
One fan wished to congratulate staff at Old Trafford who did a 'great job' at the match ensuring supporters were safe as they left 

Fans on Twitter had concerns that a suspect package managed to get into the stadium but were glad that people appeared to be safe 

A sniffer dog takes a rest from searching the stands at Old Trafford following a 'Code Red' security alert prompted by a suspect package

A sniffer dog takes a rest from searching the stands at Old Trafford following a ‘Code Red’ security alert prompted by a suspect package

Fans await news after being evacuated from Manchester United's ground ahead of kick-off. The Premier League match was later postponed

Fans await news after being evacuated from Manchester United’s ground ahead of kick-off. The Premier League match was later postponed

Fans wait outside the ground for the latest news after being told to evacuate due to a security alert. They were later sent home by officials

Fans wait outside the ground for the latest news after being told to evacuate due to a security alert. They were later sent home by officials

Stewards line up outside Old Trafford after the stadium was fully evacuated ahead of kick off following the discovery of a suspect package

Stewards line up outside Old Trafford after the stadium was fully evacuated ahead of kick off following the discovery of a suspect package

GMP Traffic posted on Twitter: ‘MUFC (old Trafford) game has been abandoned, Fans are leaving the ground. Please avoid the area if possible.’ 

AFC Bournemouth tweeted that the match had been ‘abandoned due to safety fears at Old Trafford’.

Officials are apparently considering playing the match behind closed doors tomorrow. 

Fan Thomas Temple, from Preston, was sitting in the West stand and was told over a tanoy they had to evacuate.

He said: ‘It was all really calm, everyone felt fine but we were led out quickly and taken quite far away from the ground when we were outside.

‘We knew instantly it was going to be a bomb scare. If it was a brawl the police would have been called, if it was a fight it would have been sorted..

‘Just after kick off the other stands began to evacuate and we knew at that point that the game was going to be abandoned.’

Bournemouth fan Steve Graham, 28, told MailOnline there was confusion in the away stand with supporters who traveled hundreds of miles to the game not told the match had been abandoned.

He said: ‘We’ve heard nothing official, we’ve just been told to stay calm and remain in our seats over the tannoy about 30 times. 

‘There’s stuff going around the fans but it’s what people have picked up themselves, we’ve heard rumours of a bomb and that the game is going to be called off.’

The Premier League game was scheduled to kick-off at 3pm and was pushed back to 3.45pm. The match has now been cancelled 

The Premier League game was scheduled to kick-off at 3pm and was pushed back to 3.45pm. The match has now been cancelled 

Fans streamed to the exits in both the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand the Stretford End on Sunday after officials told them the ground was being evacuated over safety concerns 

Fans streamed to the exits in both the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand the Stretford End on Sunday after officials told them the ground was being evacuated over safety concerns 

Kick-off at Old Trafford was delayed by 45 minutes due to the incident on the final day of the season and has now been cancelled 

Kick-off at Old Trafford was delayed by 45 minutes due to the incident on the final day of the season and has now been cancelled 

Mr Graham, a part-time referee of Southampton, added: ‘The teams went off earlier than normal but the first we knew of anything going on was about 2.45pm when fans started getting evacuated.

‘But we had no clue what was going on. I just want to go home now. The fans have been great though, we haven’t been nervous, we’ve just kept singing our songs and sticking together.

‘It’s a shame having travelled all this way. We’re going to have to come all the way back, and who knows when that will be?’  

All other games on the final day of the season, including Manchester City’s meeting with Swansea, started as normal.

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