Manchester United - Bournemouth abandoned after "suspicious package"

The final Premier League game at Old Trafford this season has been abandoned after a "suspicious package" was found and a full evacuation was put in place.

Manchester United - Bournemouth abandoned after "suspicious package"
United fans leave the stadium in an evacuation | Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images Sport

Manchester United's final home league game of the season has been abandoned after a "suspicious package" was found in the North-West quadrant of Old Trafford.

The match was due to kick-off simultaneously with all other nine Premier League matches on the final day of the season at 15:00BST. However, eight minutes before kick-off, the stadium began a full evacuation, starting with the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson Stand.

Fans, directors, pundits, and players remained in the Sir Bobby Charlton Stand but 'Code Red' could be heard over the tannoy as stewards attempted to deal with the situation. 

At 16:40, a controlled explosion was conducted at Old Trafford, as confirmed by Greater Manchester Police. Reports suggest a device was found strapped to a pipe in a set of Stretford End toilets. Following the controlled explosion, fire engines approached Old Trafford. 

"Suspicious package" at Old Trafford forces abandonment

Players were warming up ahead of the game when they were ushered off the pitch while thousands of fans were made to leave their seats and convene in the VIP car park to ensure safety. 

Bournemouth players warm up | Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images Sport
Bournemouth players warm up | Photo: Alex Morton/Getty Images Sport

The way in which the stewards and staff at Manchester United handled the situation must be commended, with two stands being fully evacuated within five minutes.

About 10 minutes after that, sniffer dogs were spotted patrolling the two empty stands with hope of discovering the "suspicious package". 

Sniffer dogs in action at Old Trafford | Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP
Sniffer dogs in action at Old Trafford | Photo: Oli Scarff/AFP

In footballing terms, Manchester United will know if they can secure Champions League football with a top four finish before they play their game. A date for the match has yet to be rearranged with officials presumably discussing the possibilities now.

Fans remained inside of the other two stands for longer, including journalists and directors, with the club waiting for all fans to clear the forecourt in front of the stadium before allowing others to leave to ensure full safety.

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera spoke to Spanish radio station Tiempo de Juego and said that "it had been very tense and we [the players] have all been nervous."

Manchester United football club made a statement: "Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the North-West Quadrant of the ground, the match with Bournemouth been abandoned today on police advice. 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."

A bomb disposal unit arrives at England's biggest club football stadium | Photo: Neil Ashton on Twitter
A bomb disposal unit arrives at England's biggest club football stadium | Photo: Neil Ashton on Twitter

Andy Mitten, of ESPN and United We Stand fanzine, tweeted that a bomb squad are at Old Trafford waiting to deal with a "mobile phone device" possibly with a "controlled explosion." This season has seen heightened security at Old Trafford with extensive searches and waits to enter the stadium before most games. Devices such as laptops and iPads have been banned from the stadium in an attempt to ensure full safety for fans. 

A bomb disposal unit was seen approaching Old Trafford at about 16:00BST, as reveals by Neil Ashton on Twitter. Greater Manchester Police confirmed this, stating that "the Army Bomb Disposal Unit are on scene to assist police at this time."