Premier League clubs are drafting in teams of officers to search for paedophiles who may use matches to groom victims.

A number of clubs, including Manchester United, have officials dotted around their stadiums on matchdays watching for suspicious activity.

Each top-flight club is required to appoint a safeguarding officer and train stewards to look out for signs that point towards children or vulnerable adults being taken advantage of. Some, including United, have gone further.

United have a safety management team and introduced a 'matchday safeguarding operation' whereby officers 'take up strategic positions to monitor activity'.


A document seen by Sportsmail says United's safeguarding officers have had 'multi-agency training to identify issues around differing groups of vulnerable people - including children who may be subject to neglect, child sexual exploitation and domestic abuse'.

United also want to keep an eye on vulnerable adults who suffer from 'mental health issues, domestic abuse or drug dependency'.

Liverpool operate a similar scheme, using stewards to ensure vulnerable members of society are not at risk at Anfield.

Sportsmail understands that all Premier League stewards are briefed to look out for those at risk, including lost or unaccompanied children, minors who turn up drunk or with parents who are drunk.

The NSPCC welcomed the initiative, saying: 'The presence (of safeguarding stewards) in and around the grounds on match day and at the academies will make clubs safer for children and young people who may otherwise be at risk.'

Meanwhile, United are looking at complaints from fans about the ticket allocation for Thursday's match against Feyenoord.

United received just 1,400 tickets after Feyenoord said capacity at De Kuip would be halved to around 26,000 following crowd trouble at a previous game.

Rules stipulate that visiting clubs should get five per cent of the tickets but UEFA say there were 31,000 at the game, prompting some supporters to accuse the Dutch club of skulduggery.

Feyenoord say United agreed to the allocation, adding that they will also receive less than five per cent for the return fixture in November.

United's Chris Smalling needed a police escort to make the flight back from Rotterdam on time on Thursday after struggling to provide a urine sample for a routine drug-test following the 1-0 defeat by Feyenoord.

Smalling eventually obliged and Dutch police got him to the airport on time.