Sporting events and venues to step up security checks

There’ll be an ‘enhanced security operation’ including for Saturday’s FA Cup final

The FA Cup final will take place at Wembley stadium on Saturday. Photograph: PA

The FA Cup final will take place at Wembley stadium on Saturday. Photograph: PA

 

Security at major sporting events around England will be stepped up after a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester killed 22 people on Monday.

With Wembley staging the FA Cup final and two play-off finals over the upcoming long weekend, and Twickenham hosting the finale of the Aviva Premiership season, fans can expect to see more armed police and face longer checks.

Metropolitan Police commander Jane Connors said: “We are determined to do all we can to protect the capital.

“That means that over the coming days as you go to a music venue, go shopping, travel to work or head off to the fantastic sporting events, you will see more officers — including armed officers.”

She added London’s security plans were under review and all would be done to “mitigate against the severe threat we face from terrorists”.

Wembley Stadium officials said there will be “an enhanced security operation for all upcoming events”, including Saturday’s FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea, Sunday’s League Two play-off final between Blackpool and Exeter and Monday’s Championship play-off decider between Huddersfield and Reading.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Football Association encouraged supporters to arrive as early as possible for additional checks.

An English Football League spokesman said there have been “no specific threats” against sporting events so far, but urged fans “to be vigilant of their surroundings at all times, stay alert and not be alarmed”.

Premiership Rugby has said there will be a minute’s silence ahead of the Exeter-Wasps clash at Twickenham and it is widely expected there will be similar acts of remembrance before the football finals.

Manchester itself is scheduled to host three days of sport this weekend, starting on Friday with the Great CityGames and ending with Sunday’s Great Manchester Run, although that must be in some doubt now.

The former is an evening of elite races and field events on a specially laid track and temporary arena in the city centre. The event, in its ninth year, is free to the public and live on BBC2, while the Great Manchester Run is the largest 10km race in Europe.

Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford is among those lined up to take part on Friday, with Sunday’s field including Ethiopia’s triple Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Tirunesh Dibaba.

When asked if the event was going ahead, a spokesman told explained: “We are awaiting advice and will provide an update as soon as we are in a position to do so.”

Looking further ahead, South West Police have said their plans for the Champions League final in Cardiff on June 3rd have not changed significantly because they were already prepared for a terrorist threat.

Speaking at a press conference at the force’s headquarters in Bridgend, assistant chief constable Richard Lewis said: “For the whole period our planning and preparation has been ongoing, the threat level across the UK has remained at severe and all our security plans reflect this threat.

”Our approach to policing this major sporting event is intelligence-led and risk-based, which gives us the flexibility to respond to any changes.

”During this time we have seen several terrorist attacks across mainland Europe and the UK, including the terrible events in Manchester last night. These incidents have been closely monitored and have been taken into consideration in all of our planning.”

With Manchester set to host games in this summer’s ICC Champions Trophy and Women’s World Cup, the International Cricket Council said safety was its highest priority and it was working closely with the relevant authorities.

With their first one-day international against England at Headingley on Wednesday, South Africa are scheduled to be in the country until early August, after the Champions Trophy and a three-match Test series.

Speaking to reporters in Leeds, South Africa’s team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said the scenes in Manchester had left his side with “genuine concerns” about their safety here, but insisted sport must not be held to ransom by terrorists.

England captain Eoin Morgan said: “I’m confident that we will crack on (with the Champions Trophy and ODI series against South Africa).

“It certainly does put things in perspective for everyone in the country and around the world. When it happens so close to home it hits you a little bit harder. It emphasises life is short and can be taken away at any stage.”

Netball’s Superleague is scheduled to hold its Final Four competition at the Manchester Arena, the scene of Monday’s deadly attack, on June 10-11 but England Netball has temporarily suspended ticket sales.

“We will release a further update in due course, for now our thoughts and condolences are with those in Manchester,” it said in a statement.

British Cycling and Team Sky, both based in the city, have stated their condolences, while there was a minute’s silence before the start of Tuesday’s Giro d’Italia stage to remember the victims, as well as former MotoGP champion Nicky Hayden and triathlete Julia Viellehner, who both died in cycling accidents.

Wimbledon’s organisers issued a short statement to say they too were working closely with the Metropolitan Police and other relevant organisations to ensure the highlight of the tennis calendar is as safe as possible.

Meanwhile, messages of anger, condolence, defiance and support continue to be posted on social media by current and former sports stars, clubs and governing bodies.

Manchester United held a minute’s silence at their last training session before travelling to Stockholm for Wednesday’s Europa League final, cancelled a press conference scheduled for this evening and closed Old Trafford to the public.

Uefa also announced a minute’s silence would be observed ahead of the final, while the opening ceremony would be reduced as a mark of respect for the victims.

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