Greater Manchester's mayor has called for an inquiry into a fake bomb that sparked an evacuation at Old Trafford on 15 May. The game between Manchester United and Bournemouth was called off shortly after 3.15pm following discussions between the Football Association, the Premier League and the police.
A controlled explosion was later carried out. However, Greater Manchester Police confirmed that the device was not viable and had been a training device left by a private company. Mayor Tony Lloyd referred to the incident as a "fiasco" and called an inquiry to be held to hold those responsible accountable.
According to Sky News, Mayor Lloyd said: "This fiasco caused massive inconvenience to supporters who had come from far and wide to watch the match, wasted the time of huge numbers of police officers and the army's bomb squad, and unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk."
While he commended the professionalism of Manchester's police and the stewards at Old Trafford, as well as the fans' and supporters' "calmness and cooperation", he insisted that the incident was unacceptable. It is believed that the "incredibly life-like" device had been used in a training exercise involving explosive search dogs and consisted of a mobile phone attached to a pipe.
Thousands of fans were left disappointed as the bomb scare cancelled Manchester United's last Premier League game of the season. Reports of the suspicious package initially emerged 20 minutes before kickoff (3pm GMT), prompting an evacuation of the Stretford End and Sir Alex Ferguson Stand, followed by a full stadium evacuation at 3.15pm GMT.
Assistant chief constable John O'Hare from the Greater Manchester Police said: "Whilst this item did not turn out to be a viable explosive, on appearance this device was as real as could be, and the decision to evacuate the stadium was the right thing to do, until we could be sure that people were not at risk."
Manchester United's vice chairman, Ed Woodward, has said that the club will be investigating the incident and thanked the police for their support, as well as the response from fans of both teams involved. The cancelled game has been rescheduled for 17 May at 8pm GMT, with fans being offered refunds as well as free tickets to the reschedule game.