(MANCHESTER, England) — The suspicious device that prompted Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium to be evacuated and a Premier League match to be cancelled Sunday was actually a training device that had been forgotten in the stadium after a recent exercise, police said.
After the evacuation, a British Army bomb disposal unit was deployed to the stadium on Sunday to carry out a controlled explosion.
Greater Manchester Police later said the suspicious item “was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs.”
Before it was announced that the suspicious package was a forgotten training device, police had described it as “incredibly lifelike,”
Manchester United was scheduled to play a Premier League match against Bournemouth at 3 p.m. local time. Kickoff had initially been postponed before police made the call to evacuate fans and the cancel the match entirely.
“We don’t make these decisions lightly and we have done this today to ensure the safety of all those attending,” said Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare in a statement. “I am thankful for everyone’s support and assistance and we will continue to provide updates on this matter as soon as they become available.”
The official Twitter account for Manchester United tweeted updates of the events at the stadium.
Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the NW Quadrant of the ground, the match has been abandoned today on police advice. #mufc
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 15, 2016
The phrase “operation red code” was announced over stadium loudspeakers, as players, who were warming up at the time, were ordered to exit the field. Security personnel assisted fans out of the stadium and bomb sniffing dogs were brought in to scan the stands for additional threats.
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 15, 2016
The Premier League later announced that the game would be played Tuesday, May 17, at 8 p.m.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.