Security boss behind Man Utd bomb scare praised for 'human' and 'sincere' apology

The man behind the bomb scare which forced the postponement of Sunday's Premier League match between Manchester United and Bournemouth has been praised for his honesty and down-to-earth apology for the incident.

A sniffer dog in action off the pitch after Sunday's match was called off (Credit: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
A sniffer dog in action off the pitch after Sunday's match was called off (Credit: Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)

The fixture at United's Old Trafford ground on Sunday will be played this evening (Tuesday) after a bomb-like device was found in the stadium, forcing police to evacuate the ground.

It was later reported that Security Search Management & Solutions had been responsible for leaving a training device in the stadium earlier in the week.

In comments to broadcast media outside his home near London yesterday, the company's owner Chris Reid said he was "absolutely gutted" that his mistake had caused such disruption, saying: "The mistake is entirely mine, I have to take full responsibility.

"To say I am sorry doesn't seem adequate, but I am," he went on to say, adding: "They dealt with it in the way they should have done. Whether they should have found it earlier is another issue."

This comms approach was praised across Twitter, and Gareth Thomas, founder of London's Capella PR, told PRWeek UK: "I think the public might end up on his side."

Thomas said Reid's comment that "they're just deciding which guillotine to use on me" was "a lot more interesting" and "human" than conventional corporate PR-speak. Thomas also praised ex-policeman Reid for having the "good sense" not to go beyond his own statement, and letting the police take the lead thereafter.

"Two days ago, I thought his head was definitely for the chop, but I reckon some smart communicating means he might just get a stay of execution," Thomas said.

Nobody from Manchester United was immediately available to confirm to PRWeek whether Reid and his company would continue to provide security services at Old Trafford. It has been widely reported that the affair will cost the club £3m because of the rearranged game and credit provided to season ticket holders.

A statement from the club's executive vice-chair Ed Woodward yesterday said: "Valuable lessons will have been learned from yesterday’s events and it is important that those are shared with other stadium operators to ensure that the safety of the public remains the first duty of us all."

Reid's question as to whether it was necessary to evacuate the stadium has been criticised by former BBC journalist and now media trainer Andy Johnson, who wrote in his blog today: "By attributing some blame on the club, he is making a terrible situation ten times worse. These remarks will only serve to infuriate the fans, the club, the police and anyone else who reads them."

However, a number of PRs, journalists and businesspeople praised his approach on Twitter, with freelance journalist Neil Wilby saying Reid came across as a "very decent man".

However, some commented negatively or sarcastically about Reid's appearance.

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