Police carried out a controlled explosion inside Old Trafford on Sunday after a suspicious package was found in the north-west quadrant of the stadium.
Manchester United’s Premier League game with AFC Bournemouth was abandoned before kick-off after police evacuated the stadium following the discovery of a device reported to be found attached to a gas pipe.
Fans in the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson stand were instructed to leave the stadium, with people in other sections of the ground initially asked to remain in their seats after the players had returned to the dressing rooms.
Latest update: A controlled explosion has just been carried out within the stadium by bomb disposal experts at Old Trafford. More to follow.
— G M Police (@gmpolice) May 15, 2016
United officials later confirmed that the game would not take place as fans and the media were escorted from the vicinity of the ground.
“Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the North-West Quadrant of the ground, the match has been abandoned today on police advice,” the club said in a statement.
“People in the stadium are asked to remain in their seats while the forecourt is cleared of fans already evacuated from the stadium. Further announcements will be made ASAP.”
Police officers with sniffer dogs searched the stands before a bomb disposal unit arrived to continue the investigation.
Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the NW Quadrant of the ground, the match has been abandoned today on police advice. #mufc
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 15, 2016
Greater Manchester Police confirmed that a controlled explosion had been carried out inside Old Trafford at approximately 1645 GMT.
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare said in an earlier statement: “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 Premier League said that the match would be rearranged as soon as possible, though early reports have suggested it could be postponed until after next Saturday’s FA Cup final between United and Crystal Palace.
“The Premier League will seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and will advise fans accordingly,” a statement read.
“It is always the last resort to abandon one of the fixtures and while we apologise for the inconvenience caused to fans we are sure, in the circumstances, they will appreciate the need to do so.”
The fans in and around the ground thanked by Gold Commander. Well done to all for responding so well. https://t.co/VSGYdbz1sZ
— CC Ian Hopkins (@CCIanHopkins) May 15, 2016
All other Premier League matches kicked off at 1500 GMT as expected.
Manchester City drew 1-1 with Swansea City to effectively guarantee they will finish above United in fourth, with Louis van Gaal’s side requiring a 19-0 victory in the rearranged match with Bournemouth to overtake their city rivals.