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Fake devices and the football fiasco

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Now the dust has settled at Old Trafford, and – with luck – the proverbial patellas have ceased to twitch, we can examine the root cause of this palaver.

Contrary to red-top sensationalism, this is not a sign of how nervous Euro 2016 organisers and the football authorities at large are becoming – it appears to have been the very essence of a well-drilled emergency plan.  People are more stoic than the media gives credit; perhaps none more so than the football fraternity.

The stewards, security staff and emergency services in Greater Manchester should all be rightly proud of the calm and professional manner in which they calmly evacuated the ground.  I’m not so sure how calm I would be ushering out nearly 90,000 people away from (what was believed to be) an explosive device, which could detonate at any second.

No blame should be laid at their door at all.  We now know that a private security firm had left it their following a security exercise in the days leading up to the match.  The Managing Director of the firm has rightly (and commendably swiftly) accepted full responsibility for the fiasco – and it is the most basic of systems (or rather lack of) that will cost him dearly – both in reputation and in his company‘s back pocket.

The military register, control and secure imitation firearms, dummy Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), and blank rounds.  They are held in armouries, and are physically accounted and signed for with every shift change.  I would imagine the Police and Fire Brigade ensure the same levels of control.

So why oh why on God’s green earth didn’t this security firm?  Moreover, why isn’t it a legal requirement?  I do recall that it’s an offence to carry an imitation firearm, so a fake IED is surely as culpable a device? Besides, only four devices were secreted in the exercise; surely it was not a monumental task to count four back in?

Thankfully, the rescheduled match went ahead without a hitch, albeit without the 19-goal swing needed by the Red Devils to snatch the Champions League football from the clutches of their City rivals.

I hope that no individual (other than those at the top) is blamed for this fiasco. It is a blessing that panic didn’t ensue (a stampede involving that many people in close proximity doesn’t bare contemplation) but a call for an immediate system introduction that controls and regulates the use of these potentially harmful training devices, is essential.  They must be treated with the same respect afforded to firearms.

Were you at Old Trafford?  What are your thought on the events?  Let everyone know in the comments section below.

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The Furious Engineer is Matt Osborne - the founder of the company. Matt is a Chartered Engineer, a freelance guru and a writer, columnist and author.

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