Not content to just humiliate themselves on the pitch and in the boardroom, Manchester United are becoming ever more inventive with their methods. It has emerged that the "incredibly lifelike hoax" bomb that forced an evacuation from Old Trafford on Sunday was actually "incredibly lifelike" because it was a dummy that had been used in a training drill by an unidentified "private company".
Assistant Chief Constable John O’Hare from Greater Manchester Police said:
"Following today’s controlled explosion, we have since found out that the item was a training device which had accidentally been left by a private company following a training exercise involving explosive search dogs.
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."
Presumably the staff on duty at Old Trafford for the Bournemouth game were the same staff who had been involved in the practice evacuation, which does make you wonder quite how they managed to forget it was the same one. As Callum Hamilton, formerly of this parish, noted on Twitter:
cannae believe the stewards going "yeah, mate, it is a bomb."— Callum Hamilton (@Callum_TH) May 15, 2016
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it looks exactly like the one from that training day"
Manchester mayor Tony Lloyd has also given his damning thoughts on the matter:
"It is outrageous this situation arose. A full inquiry is required to urgently find out how this happened, why it happened and who will be held accountable.
"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. It also unnecessarily put people in danger, as evacuating tens of thousands of people from a football stadium is not without risk.
"Whilst this in no way demeans the professionalism of the police and stewards responsible for getting the fans out, or the supporters' calmness and cooperation during the evacuation, it is unacceptable that it happened in the first place."
He's not wrong.