Greater Manchester Police last night said a fake bomb detonated at Old Trafford was a “training device” accidentally left behind by a company.
The device forced the abandonment of Manchester United’s Premier League clash with Bournemouth.
Police said the item had “accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise”.
The device was reportedly left behind in the toilets of the stadium.
The match has been rearranged for tomorrow night.
What was supposed to be an important final league match of the campaign instead ended with fans being evacuated from the ground before kick-off, with players ushered off the pitch during the warm-up.
A security alert in the stadium’s North West Quadrant led to spectators in the Stretford End and Alex Ferguson Stand being evacuated from the ground, before the remaining fans were told to follow as the match was abandoned due to a security alert.
Bomb disposal exerts carried out a controlled explosion on a suspect package just after 4.30pm and Great Manchester Police later announced in a statement on Twitter: “Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion at Old Trafford on what is described as (an) incredibly lifelike explosive device.
Security personnel were told to invoke ‘operation red code’ around 2.40pm and shortly after 3.15pm those remaining in the ground were informed the game was off.
A bomb disposal unit van was seen arriving at the stadium shortly before 4pm, with four fire engines joining ambulances at the back of the Stretford End.
Perimeter security staff were told to stand down at 6pm at which point stewards were still patrolling car parks as hundreds of staff sat outside.
A statement from the Premier League read: “The decision to abandon the Manchester United versus AFC Bournemouth match was taken after the police advised of the necessity to deal with a suspect package.
“When it comes to matters of security it is obviously right that Manchester United and the Premier League place the safety of supporters and employees foremost.
As supporters left the stadium, there was inevitably disappointment that the game did not go ahead.
Sam Stride, a United supporter from Bristol, said: “Unbelievable. This is the first time I have been to Old Trafford to see a game.
“My mate and I have known each other for 63 years and we travelled up from Bristol together.
“We sat in the Stretford End for about five seconds before they asked us to leave. It’s very disappointing.”
Sean Bones, vice-chairman of the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust, said: “It is obviously a dark day in Premier League history. We have got to give our thanks to the club and the authorities for getting supporters out of the ground safely and home to their families.
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