The Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) responds to the evacuation of Old Trafford

On Sunday 16 May, Manchester United’s ground, Old Trafford, was evacuated shortly before the scheduled kick-off at 3pm, in response to a suspect package found within the stadium. The emergency evacuation took place in a calm and efficient way to ensure the safety of spectators.    

The SGSA commends the actions of the safety team and the police in responding to what was considered a credible threat, by evacuating the ground safely. The fans must also be praised for their response and their cooperation with the request to evacuate the ground.

The ground management is responsible for ensuring the safety of spectators in their ground. In an incident such as a suspect package, the club safety teams work together with the police to determine the best course of action to ensure the safety of the spectators in the ground.

Sports grounds have well prepared and tested contingency plans in place. It would appear that these contingency plans were put into action and all spectators were safely evacuated from the ground.

The incidents in France and Germany last year, have highlighted the security threat to sports grounds and the current security threat level in the UK remains at Severe, which means that an attack is highly likely. The SGSA provides advice and guidance on ensuring the safety of spectators at sports grounds and works with the National Anti-Terrorism Security Office (NaTSCO), who provide advice and guidance on planning for a terrorist incident, to ensure that sports grounds have effective safety and security measures in place.

Chief Executive of the SGSA, Karen Eyre-White said “The actions of the safety team and the fans response to the incident at Old Trafford yesterday should be commended. The safe evacuation of one of the largest grounds in the world was a clear demonstration of how all those involved in spectator safety can work together ensuring the best outcome for the safety of fans.

“Whilst we are continuing to learn the facts about the incident, we remind clubs to maintain the high levels of safety and security to ensure spectator safety remains a priority.” 

National Counter Terrorism Security Office. Advice on protecting crowded places from terrorism.

Counter terrorism protective security advice for stadia and arenas

SGSA Safe and Secure Sports Grounds for all Sports advice