The Latest: Official: Stadium item coincides with chatter


MANCHESTER, England (AP) — The Latest on the evacuation of Manchester United’s stadium after a suspicious package was found (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

A European security official says the suspicious item at Old Trafford coincided with increased chatter about threats to sports stadiums and other targets which would draw considerable crowds.

This said, leaving a package like this runs counter to tactics seen recently by extremists and the official said “many times these things amount to hoaxes.

The official said “The terror threat level associated with Irish dissidents has been raised recently due to credible threats we’ve been monitoring.” The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak about ongoing investigations.

Last week, British officials raised the threat level regarding a possible attack on the mainland by Irish Republican dissidents, upping the threat level from “moderate” to “substantial.” That means an attack was viewed as a “strong possibility.”

Security at Premier League stadiums was increased after the Paris attacks that killed 130 people in November, which involved three teams of attackers who blew themselves up or sprayed gunfire at the Stade de France sports stadium, cafes and bars, and the Bataclan concert hall.

–By Paisley Dodds in London.

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4 p.m.

A Premier League official says it’s unclear when the match between Manchester United and Bournemouth will be played. Sunday’s match was called off after a suspicious package was found at Old Trafford.

The official said the league will look to rearrange it for as soon as possible. The official was speaking on condition of anonymity because the Premier League had not yet issued an official statement.

Sunday was meant to be the final day of the Premier League season with all 20 teams supposed to kick off at the same time. But Old Trafford, which has a capacity for more than 75,000 fans, was evacuated about a half-hour before the scheduled kickoff at 3 p.m. (1400 GMT).

If United eventually win the match and crosstown rival Manchester City lose Sunday, then the Red Devils would get a Champions League qualification spot.

–By Steve Douglas in Manchester.

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3:20 p.m.

Manchester United’s home game against Bournemouth in the Premier League has been called off after a suspect package was found inside Old Trafford stadium.

Greater Manchester police said on its Twitter page Sunday that the match had been abandoned.

Two stands inside Old Trafford — The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End — were evacuated about 30 minutes before the scheduled kickoff time of 3 p.m. (1400 GMT), with United saying “a suspect package was found in the North West Quadrant.”

Fans in other stands initially had been allowed to stay inside the stadium.

Police are asking people to “avoid the area if possible.”

The rest of the Premier League games being played on Sunday, the final day of the season, went ahead as scheduled.

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3:10 p.m.

Manchester United says two stands at its Old Trafford stadium have been evacuated ahead of the team’s Premier League game against Bournemouth.

The kickoff has been delayed.

No official reason has yet been given by United. British broadcaster Sky Sports said the stands were evacuated because of a suspect package.

Fans in The Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the Stretford End were evacuated about 30 minutes before the scheduled kickoff time of 3 p.m. local time (1400 GMT). Fans in other stands were allowed to stay inside the stadium.