Manchester United blamed a security contractor on Monday over a dummy bomb that caused the abandonment of Sunday’s final Premier League game against Bournemouth and left the club facing a multi-million-pound bill.
The incident at Old Trafford triggered angry calls for action, with Tony Lloyd, Manchester’s mayor and police and crime commissioner, branding it “outrageous” and a “fiasco”.
United vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the device had been left in error by a sub-contractor following an exercise to train dog handlers at the stadium, but was recorded as having been removed.
“The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise,” Woodward said in a statement.
“That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine match-day search of the 100 Club (executive lounge), as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.”
The fake device, thought to consist of a mobile phone attached to a pipe, was discovered minutes before United and Bournemouth were due to take to the pitch and safely detonated by bomb disposal experts.
United vowed to reimburse the tickets of the 75,000 fans who were evacuated. They will also give them free entry to Tuesday’s rearranged match against the south-coast side. That gesture alone could cost United more than three million pounds (3.8 million euros/$4.3 million).
Woodward said United were working closely with Greater Manchester Police to make sure “robust security measures” would be in place for the rescheduled fixture.
Lloyd said: “It is outrageous this situation arose. A full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.
“This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, 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.”