Sunday’s Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth has to be canceled due to a fake bomb that was mistakenly left in a toilet inside the Old Trafford stadium.
The device which led to the evacuation of the arena was described as being a mobile phone attached to piping. The Police’ bomb unit then arrived to execute a controlled explosion to destroy the device.
The result of the controlled explosion showed Police that it was actually a fake device and didn’t contain any explosive material.
In an inexplicable mix-up, a training company left the fake bomb by accident only days before the match was scheduled to take place. The fake device was used as part of a training exercise to stage a potential bomb threat, but was forgotten behind after they concluded.
“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 search dogs,” said Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable, John O’Hare.
“While 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.”
The game has now been rescheduled to Tuesday at 8 PM, and will be featured on its originally scheduled station, Sky Sports.
Bookmakers panicked not because of the bomb but because of large wagers as one bettor bet 4 million on the game and the theory of a fix is being insinuated. We asked Jon Price the soccer handicapper what his thoughts were on the matter. His lips were sealed however the famous soccer, football, basketball, and baseball tipster said that you always have to be weary and on the look out for rare “Black Swan” events. These outliers create great betting opportunities that give you the chance to make millions of dollars over your lifetime.
“It certainly did not look like something you would want to mess with,” said one official who saw the device before its disposal.
Before canceling the match, the Premier League discussed the pending decision with both Manchester United and Bournemouth clubs, and ultimately decided that it was be the best plan of action.
“The safety of fans is always our highest priority. The club takes security very seriously and staff are regularly trained with the police and emergency services to identify and deal with these incidents,” explained Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward. “We will investigate the incident to inform future actions and decisions.”
Manchester’s Mayor and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, wasn’t gentle in regards to his feelings on the mishap, “It is outrageous. A full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.”
Lloyd also went on to say, “This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the Army’s bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk. It is unacceptable.”
76,000 fans were expected in attendance at the Old Trafford field for Sunday’s match. Most were already at their seats when the package was reported by a steward. A police officer was then brought-in to determine the authenticity of the device, in which he concluded that it seemed real enough to pose a potential threat.
Players from both teams were ordered to stay in the stadium but on the opposite end from where the supposed device was located, until the fans had finished exiting.
Police kept a strict perimeter and demanded for fans to keep their distance from the ongoing investigation and pending controlled explosion of the device.
At 5:45 PM, Police reported that they had disposed of the fake bomb and that it was not a genuine explosive device.
Bournemouth returned back East after the cancelation of the match. Their manager, Eddie How said of the incident, “The players were doing their warm-up as normal and everything was good. Then, they came in early and we were a little unsure what was happening at that time.”
“Word got back to us that there had been a suspect package spotted. Very quickly it became apparent the game was not going to take place. We decided to come back to Bournemouth because there was no sign of the game being played the next day.”
Sunday’s scare may ultimately lead to new security measures being taken to avoid any real future threats of the like. In fact, they already implemented a few following the event, as Sky Sports’ analysts, Graeme Souness and Thierry Henry were both patted down before leaving the stadium.
“For the first time today we were patted down, I can’t remember that here. Unless they were given a tip-off,” Henry said.
No doubt there was great disappointment amongst the crowd in attendance, and certainly the millions of interested soccer fans around the world, but the two clubs will meet again Tuesday at 8 PM to make up the postponed match.