This was a blun­der, but ex­pect more in­ci­dents in fu­ture

Paris at­tacks changed the way sports events are po­liced and se­cu­rity is now tighter than ever

The Daily Telegraph - Total Football - - BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE - Ja­son Burt CHIEF FOOT­BALL COR­RE­SPON­DENT at Old Traf­ford

There will be an­noy­ance, ridicule, em­bar­rass­ment and even anger over the aban­don­ment of Manchester United’s Premier League match at home to Bournemouth be­cause of a dummy ex­plo­sive de­vice mis­tak­enly left in the sta­dium. But the drama is an un­avoid­able con­se­quence of the febrile at­mos­phere that ex­ists post-Paris.

The ter­ror­ist atroc­i­ties in the French cap­i­tal last Novem­ber, which left 130 peo­ple dead, have changed the way big events – es­pe­cially sport­ing events – are po­liced. And pos­si­bly for­ever. No chance can be taken and we are go­ing to have to get used to such evac­u­a­tions.

There are just 26 days to go be­fore Euro 2016 kicks off in the French cap­i­tal and, al­though the

de­vice at Old Traf­ford was left as the re­sult of a ter­ri­ble blun­der af­ter a train­ing ex­er­cise, the in­ci­dent will have caused a shud­der of ap­pre­hen­sion for the or­gan­is­ers.

There will be re­lief, also, of course, in that the drama was not ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity but, rather, the re­sult of an episode de­signed to de­tect such be­hav­iour which went dras­ti­cally wrong.

The game will now be played on Tues­day evening which will cause a huge amount of in­con­ve­nience for sup­port­ers – not least those from Bournemouth who made the long trip and who are set to be com­pen­sated by United. There is sig­nif­i­cant em­bar­rass­ment for United with ques­tions asked about their se­cu­rity ar­range­ments.

Chief among those, be­yond why the de­vice was not re­moved once the train­ing ex­er­cise was over, will be whether the club’s se­cu­rity staff prop­erly ‘swept’ Old Traf­ford – check­ing for any­thing sus­pi­cious – be­fore they opened the gates and al­lowed the fans in.

It is one thing for the de­vice to be left by a pri­vate firm – and an­other for it not to be found be­fore the pub­lic were ex­posed to the risk and then the fear that a bomb might be about to go off. That is a dou­ble se­cu­rity blun­der and one that does not re­flect well on one of the big­gest foot­ball clubs in the world.

United have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into what hap­pened. It has caused head­lines around the world, dis­tress and red faces – not least for the Premier League.

But the big­ger point is that the re­ac­tion to dis­cov­er­ing what was feared was a bomb was right; no chance could be taken. The calm evac­u­a­tion of the sta­dium was well-han­dled. The au­thor­i­ties had no choice but to aban­don the game even if there were early sus­pi­cions that strap­ping a mo­bile phone to a pipe was not the modus operandi of the mod­ern-day ter­ror­ist. The risk could not be taken. Not with the safety of 76,000 peo­ple to con­sider.

Se­cu­rity has been tight­ened sig­nif­i­cantly since the deadly at­tacks last Novem­ber in Paris which in­cluded sui­cide bomb­ings at the Stade de France – dur­ing the match be­tween France and Ger­many – which will be the venue also of the first game of Euro 2016 on June 10 when the hosts face Ro­ma­nia.

Matches have been called off – friendlies in­volved Ger­many and Hol­land and Bel­gium and Spain – and there will be more. Some in­ci­dents will be real, some hoax, maybe some more blun­ders. But that is the world we now live in.

Since Paris there is al­ready far greater se­cu­rity at sports events – cor­dons, pat-downs, bag searches, snif­fer dogs, metal de­tec­tors and a more vis­i­ble pres­ence of stew­ards. That will only in­crease fur­ther. At Old Traf­ford yes­ter­day, cars were be­ing stopped and there were stew­ards with mir­rors to check un­der­neath them for de­vices.

The pat-down saved many lives in the Stade de France in­ci­dent – it caught a bomber with a sui­cide vest – and is now the key se­cu­rity pro­ce­dure at sta­di­ums. As hor­rific and tragic as the events were, and as high as the death toll was, it could have been worse. So that se­cu­rity mea­sure has to be rolled out even more.

Uefa are re­view­ing again the ar­range­ments around Euro 2016 and the scenes at Old Traf­ford may well, un­for­tu­nately, be re­peated in France next month, which given the con­densed na­ture of tour­na­ment foot­ball could cause havoc. There have been warn­ings that some games may have to be played be­hind-closed-doors. We are in a new world sit­u­a­tion now.

That may mean more de­lays and more in­con­ve­nience. It may also even mean more games post­poned at the last minute. But that is the re­al­ity we face and, to an ex­tent, have to ac­cept even if, this time, it was be­cause of an avoid­able mis­take.

Some will be real, some hoax – and maybe more mis­takes. But that’s the world we live in

Scenes of con­fu­sion: Sup­port­ers (left) evac­u­ate the sta­dium; a dog han­dler (above) walks round the pitch; United play­ers troop off fol­low­ing their warm-up

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