Q&A: The Old Trafford bomb scare

The AFC Bournemouth team coach leaves the ground at the English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo / AP
The AFC Bournemouth team coach leaves the ground at the English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Photo / AP

What happened?

A farcical security blunder led to Manchester United's final Premier League game of the season being cancelled, after a private security firm forgot to remove a fake bomb taped to the back of a toilet door as part of a training exercise at Old Trafford.

What was the initial reaction?

The error had sparked fears of another potential terrorist attack and resulted in the match against Bournemouth being called off as tens of thousands of fans were evacuated from one of the world's most famous sports grounds. A bomb disposal unit carried out a controlled explosion after what had been described as a fake but "incredibly life-like" bomb was discovered in the north west quadrant at Old Trafford in the run up to kick-off of a game attended by around 76,000 fans.

Who was responsible?

It emerged during an investigation by Greater Manchester Police that the dummy device had been left by an external company following a training drill involving sniffer dogs.

It is thought that the company responsible only owned up to the blunder after being contacted by officers.

How have police reacted?

This was the first time in 24 years that a Premier League match has been cancelled on security grounds. Tony Lloyd, Greater Manchester's Police and Crime Commissioner, condemned the incident as "outrageous" and a "fiasco" and demanded a full inquiry into an "unacceptable" situation that he claimed put people in "unnecessary danger" and proved a waste of police time and resources.

What about the players and fans?

Ander Herrera, the United midfielder, said the mood had been "very tense" in the dressing room and that players were "nervous" about the events unfolding. Fans who had not yet entered the stadium made their way to pubs, focusing on their disappointment on United's season. "It sums up our season, that. Just fizzling out - something and nothing," Matt Crew told the Guardian. The match has been rescheduled for Wednesday NZT.

Was there more to it?

Hours after the fake bomb was found, a Ryanair plane headed for Manchester was evacuated before takeoff due to a bomb scare at Rygge airport outside Oslo, Norway. The plane was evacuated due to the "suspicious behaviour" of two passengers and a bomb squad searched the aircraft but found nothing suspicious. Police later said the incident was due to a misunderstanding.

Were the authorities on edge?

Authorities were understandably edgy after Britain last week raised the terrorist threat level from "moderate" to "substantial," linking it to Northern Ireland and what Theresa May, Britain's Home Secretary, said was "the continuing threat from dissident republican activity." There have also been reports in recent months of Isis (Islamic State) militants plotting to attack Britain among other European countries.

How has social media reacted?

It has predictably been fodder for Twitter. Tom Phillips tweeted: "The 'left behind after training exercise' excuse also explains why Man Utd fielded four small traffic cones in defence this season". Stephen Grant ?said: "Should be no surprise Man Utd will still be playing over 48hrs after all the other teams finished their final matches #fergietime". And Jim Waterson ?added: "Somewhere in England is a private security contractor hoping his boss will just forget to mention the fake device thingy at work tomorrow".

- Daily Telegraph, Washington Post, AP

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