Suspect package at Manchester United stadium was training device

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              Man United match abandoned: Old Trafford evacuated

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - A suspicious package destroyed by a bomb disposal team after prompting the evacuation of Manchester United's <MANU.N> stadium on Sunday was a fake device accidentally left behind after a training exercise, police said.

Two of the Old Trafford stands were evacuated about 20 minutes before the scheduled kickoff of the Premier League game against Bournemouth at 10.00 a.m. ET when the item was found in the toilets at the ground. The match was called off soon afterwards and the whole 75,000-seater stadium cleared.

TV footage showed fire engines arriving at the stadium, one of the world's most famous football grounds.

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Police used sniffer dogs to search the area before calling in an army bomb disposal unit which carried out a controlled explosion on the item they described as being "an incredibly realistic-looking explosive device".

"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," Assistant Chief Constable John O'Hare from Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

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Suspect package at Manchester United stadium was training device
Britain Soccer Football - Manchester United v AFC Bournemouth - Barclays Premier League - Old Trafford - 15/5/16 A police dog after the match was abandoned Reuters / Andrew Yates Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. Please contact your account representative for further details.
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Royal Logistic Corps Bomb Disposal van in attendance under the grandstand following a security alert and the subsequent abandonment of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Members of Bournemouth staff leave following a security alert and the subsequent abandonment of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A Fire Engine waits outside the stadium following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15: The fire brigade arrive after the match was abandoned during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 15: The fire brigade arrive after the match was abandoned during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog makes checks following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the stands following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A fire engine arrives at the ground following a security alert and the subsequent abandonment of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog makes checks following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog makes checks following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog makes checks following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Members of staff wait outside the ground following a security alert and the subsequent match abandonment of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Security checks are made following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Security checks are made following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the stands following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Security checks are made following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A fire engine arrives at the ground following a security alert and the subsequent match abandonment of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the stands following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the stands following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Security checks are made following a security alert and subsequent match abandonment prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the ground as the match is abandoned ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog patrols pitchside after the match is abandoned with fans evacuated from the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: A sniffer dog is seen pitchside after the match is abandoned with fans evacuated from the ground prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 15: Fans are evacuated from the ground as the match is abandoned ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and AFC Bournemouth at Old Trafford on May 15, 2016 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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"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 said in a statement on their website that the package had been found in the North West Quadrant, adding that the match was abandoned on police advice.

United Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said staff were regularly trained in security with the police and emergency services. The club will investigate the incident fully.

The game has been rearranged for Tuesday. United cannot now qualify for next season's Champions League after Manchester City drew at Swansea City on Sunday.

United are sixth in the Premier League table and would move above Southampton into fifth with a draw or victory against Bournemouth. They are due to play Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

On Wednesday Britain raised the threat level from dissident Northern Ireland militants to "substantial", meaning an attack on the British mainland is considered a strong possibility.

There have also been concerns that the Belgian-based cell of Islamic State that carried out attacks in Paris six months ago and in Brussels in March might have been involved in plots in Britain.

(Reporting by Ed Osmond and Kylie MacLellan; Writing by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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