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Old Trafford evacuated as controlled explosion carried out on ‘incredibly lifelike’ suspect package

Manchester United’s final game of the season was abandoned just before 3pm kick-off after a security alert at Old Trafford.

Fans were evacuated from the Sir Alex Ferguson stand and the Stretford end after a suspect package was discovered in the north west section of the stadium.

Update: Greater Manchester Police have said the device, understood to be a mobile phone with wires protruding from it, was not a viable explosive but was “incredibly lifelike”.

Bomb disposal units and sniffer dogs were called to the Trafford stadium to locate the device.

At 4.45pm Greater Manchester Police tweeted that teams from the army Royal Logistics Corps bomb disposal squad had carried out a controlled explosion on the package.

It was confirmed that the device was found by Manchester United’s own security team as they swept the stadium before kick-off.

Thousands of fans stream out of Old Trafford after 'bomb' found - Simon Williams

Tens of thousands of fans stream out of Old Trafford as evacuation gets underway – Simon Williams

At around 2.35pm the scheduled kick-off was delayed. But just minutes before the game was due to start stewards started to inform fans the game had been abandoned.

When this was backed up by police, tens of thousands of confused but compliant supporters started to make their way to the exits.

Some fans were told to stay in their seats while two stands were evacuated but no one was injured and despite the crush outside the stadium there was no panicking in the crowd, eyewitnesses said.

The club confirmed they made the decision to abandon the game on advice from Greater Manchester Police.

in a statement the club announced: “Due to the discovery of a suspect package in the north-west quadrant of the ground, the match has been abandoned for today on police advice.”

The resulting announcement saw the 80,000+ fans, as well as catering and TV crews all leave the stadium, with many of the United faithful still surrounding the stadium as Greater Manchester Police continued with their evacuation procedures.

Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We are doing everything we can to investigate this item as quickly as possible, however our priority is obviously to ensure the safety of everyone in the stadium and surrounding area.

“As a result, today’s game has been abandoned and a controlled evacuation of the stadium has now taken place.”

O’Hare went on to state that GMP were receiving ‘military assistance’ and don’t make decisions of this nature lightly.

The Premier League have also released a statement saying: “When it comes to matters of security it is obviously right that Manchester United and the Premier League place the safty of supporters and employees foremost.”

The statement added that the Premier League will: “seek to rearrange the fixture as soon as practically possible and advise fans accordingly”.

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Oliver is an aspiring young journalist currently studying at Salford University. He covers non league football and local politics for multiple outlets.