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English Premier League 2015-16

Manchester United staff handled a confusing situation very well, says SCMP sport reporter caught up in Old Trafford fiasco

An atmosphere of confusion and disappointment reigned among soccer fans who were at the abandoned Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford yesterday

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 1:07pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 May, 2016, 2:44pm

There was an atmosphere of confusion and disappointment among soccer fans who were at the abandoned Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford yesterday, but stadium staff handled a potentially tricky situation with distinction.

It was concerning because of the sheer number of people that were being evacuated from the stadium, but it was more confusing than frightening
Jonathan White, Manchester United supporter

SCMP Sport contributor Jonathan White, a Manchester United season ticket-holder, was present for the final league match of the campaign and said the general feeling was one of bemusement rather than fear.

“It was all a bit weird more than anything,” said White. “It was concerning because of the sheer number of people that were being evacuated from the stadium, but it was more confusing than frightening.”

Parts of Old Trafford were evacuated by police shortly before the scheduled kick-off yesterday after the discovery of a suspect device in a bathroom. The club and spectators were later praised for their calm response in clearing the stadium.

After initially delaying the kick-off, authorities decided the game should be abandoned before an army bomb disposal unit was called in to remove the device. The suspect package was later found to have been a fake ‘bomb’ used by a private firm as part of a training exercise conducted at the ground prior to the match.

Mayor of Manchester slams ‘outrageous’ Old Trafford fake bomb abandonment

“People stayed calm and the ground stewards handled the situation professionally. It was very well organised, although I’m sure it must have been frightening for people leaving the stadium through the tunnels (beneath the Sir Alex Fergsuon and Stretford End stands),” added White.

“Outside the stadium, there were a lot of rumours with people trying to contact others to find out what was happening before fans realised the game had been abandoned.”

Old Trafford evacuated: Manchester United v Bournemouth Premier League match abandoned

On Twitter, disappointed supporters complained about the abandonment. One of the most popular clubs in the world, Manchester United attract a large number of international supporters.

Sunday’s match has now been rescheduled for Tuesday night with Manchester United agreeing to compensate fans with refunds in a move that is set to cost the club close to £3 million (HK$33.4 million).

Greater Manchester mayor Tony Lloyd called the abandonement a “fiasco” and “outrageous” before calling for a full inquiry to determine who was responsible.