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Premier League clubs consult counter-terrorism police

Counter-terrorism police have been drafted in to speak to Premier League clubs amid concerns that stadiums may be targeted in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack.

Sportsmail understands a summit was held with every top-flight head of safety and security before the season.

Officials sat in on seminars with experts who spoke about issues including what safety measures should be introduced and what to do in the event of an attack.

Manchester United, who were the first club to employ a counter-terrorism chief, have now employed a head of security to work at Old Trafford.

The attack on the Manchester Arena, carried out by a suicide bomber in May, killed 23 and injured hundreds more.

Given that it took place at an entertainment venue and featured a bomb hidden in a rucksack, the atrocity added to concerns that sporting sites, and in particular Premier League stadiums, could be targeted.

New measures have been implemented at a host of grounds with bag checks now commonplace.

Rings of steel have been put in place around a number of top-flight grounds including Old Trafford and the Etihad Stadium.

Since last season, security staff at United have opened and searched the boots of those parking on club car parks in the shadow of the Theatre of Dreams. They have written to supporters to warn that bags over a certain size will not be permitted inside the ground.

Bag drop points have been set up outside Old Trafford and those who are likely to have to use them have been advised to get to matches two hours before kick-off.

The talks are part of a campaign to ensure the safety of all the supporters who attend Premier League matches each week.

A source said that clubs have also been encouraged to share best practice with each other, which they have been happy to do.

Premier League protocol has also been reinforced, the source confirmed.

‘It’s what you would expect,’ added the source. ‘These are venues that thousands and thousands of people attend. The meeting was held with all heads of security and clubs will all be in touch with their local police forces throughout the season.’

United, who recognise that Old Trafford is one of the country’s iconic venues, are devoting considerable time and expense to the matter.

As revealed by Sportsmail in January, they became the first club to employ a counter-terrorism chief when they drafted in an experienced former Greater Manchester Police officer to fulfil the role.

It is understood they have returned to the same force for a head of security to work with the officer and the head of venue.

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