Internet Desk: Manchester United have beefed up security with the appointment of a counter-terrorism chief.
The position is the first of its kind in Premier League football, with United aware their prestigious home represents a target for extremists.
The role has been filled by a respected former inspector from Greater Manchester Police’s specialist search unit.
He was trained in different covert police operations, including terrorism, and specialises in sweep searches of buildings and vehicles.
Staff at Old Trafford are being coached through protocols and search layouts by him as the club strive for the most effective preventative measures.
United increased their security checks in response to the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, when three suicide bombers struck outside the Stade de France during France’s friendly against Germany and mass shootings elsewhere in the city killed 130 people.
Full body searches were introduced at United with cars also checked on entry. Every window at Old Trafford was covered in clear anti-shatter film last year with the aim of protecting those inside in the event of an explosion.
But two hugely embarrassing episodes have plagued United’s security.
A fake bomb in a toilet cubicle, left behind from a drill, forced the final Premier League match of last season against Bournemouth to be postponed.
And two pranksters slept inside Old Trafford undetected after splitting from their stadium tour group the day before November’s draw with Arsenal. United maintain there was no security risk but are investigating how the pair managed to ‘pass themselves off as staff’.
A review ensued after the Bournemouth gaffe, and club sources stress that lines of communication between different departments have improved.
Heightened security at turnstiles has led to huge queues and United are employing more female stewards to move lines along quicker.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho activated a one-year extension clause in Antonio Valencia’s contract which will keep the right back at the club until 2018.