Manchester United: ‘Proud of how our staff responded,’ says Ed Woodward

Story highlights

Man Utd play Bournemouth in league game Tuesday

Sunday's game abandoned due to fake bomb scare

United distances itself from any responsibility for mishap

Match will determine each club's final league position

CNN —  

After a security scare forced the abandonment of a major English soccer match at the weekend, Manchester United and Bournemouth will attempt to play their final English Premier League game of the season Tuesday.

“For tomorrow’s rearranged match against Bournemouth, we are working closely with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that robust security measures continue to be of the highest priority,” Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement Monday.

The firm that left a mock pipe bomb inside the club’s 75,000-capacity Old Trafford stadium prompting Sunday’s evacuation has apologized for its role in the mishap.

And Woodward distanced United from any responsibility for the eight-inch, lifelike explosive device having been left in the fifth floor of the men’s bathroom in the stadium. It had been used during a training exercise on Wednesday.

“Following investigation, the device proved to have been left in error following the training of dog handlers by a sub-contractor,” said Woodward.

“The contractor had signed the device as having been recovered along with the 13 other devices at the end of the exercise.

“That device could not have been detected by sniffer dogs on the routine match day search of the 100 Club, as it contained no explosives and was used in an exercise training handlers not dogs.”

Woodward added: “The safety of the fans is our number one aim at every event we host at Old Trafford. Overall, I’m proud of how our staff responded.

“We are conducting a detailed evaluation with the help of the police and will share our findings across the rest of the game.

“Valuable lessons will have been learned and it is important that those are shared with other stadium operators to ensure that the safety of the public remains the first duty of us all.”

READ MORE: Security firm apologizes for leaving fake bomb at stadium


The incident has infuriated a number of people, including the Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd, who described it as a “fiasco” and called for a full inquiry.

Lloyd said security exercises are important but said the latest incident was “incompetent.”

He had said in an earlier statement that he was particularly unhappy at the “waste of time of huge numbers of police officers and the army’s bomb squad.”

READ MORE: Cause of ‘bomb’ scare at Old Trafford dubbed ‘fiasco’

Shortly before the 3 p.m. kickoff on Sunday, United staff alerted police to the suspicious item found in the bathroom. A police unit used a controlled explosion to destroy the mock bomb.

“I am absolutely devastated that a lapse in my working protocols has resulted in many people being disappointed, frightened and inconvenienced. Nothing I can say will rectify that,” said the head of security at Security Search Management Company Chris Reid in an emailed statement.

Tuesday’s game, which will kickoff at 8 p.m. local time, will decide where United and Bournemouth finish in the Premier League.

United will finish fifth with a win or a draw, while 16th-placed Bournemouth could climb two places if they win at Old Trafford.

’Heartbroken fan’

Sunday’s mishap will reportedly cost United $4.3 million.

One fan – Moses Kamara – had traveled from Sierra Leone at a cost of $1,800 to watch the game and was “heartbroken” after missing the chance to watch United.

However, the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) has now rearranged Kamara’s flight and provided him with a ticket for the FA Cup final this weekend, when United plays Crystal Palace for its only chance of winning a trophy this season.

The tickets are like gold dust for United fans – the club was allocated 28,000 for the match and more than 30,000 of its 55,000 season ticket-holders applied.

READ MORE: ‘Golden ticket’ for fan from Sierra Leone fan

CNN’s Ashley Fantz, Christina Macfarlane, Aleks Klosok and Damien Ward contributed to this report.