Manchester United is banning tablets from Old Trafford on match days as part of a tightening-up of security procedures to reflect heightened terrorist concerns.
Large electronic devices including laptops and tablets will be added to the list of prohibited items as a result of security concerns, the Premier League side said in a statement.
Ahead of the new season, we’d like to make you aware of some changes to the Club policy regarding items you cannot bring in to the stadium on home matchdays. As a result of the latest security advice, large electronic devices including laptops and tablets will be added to the existing list of prohibited items (PDF, one page) for matchdays at Old Trafford. We apologise for any inconvenience that this might cause but we are committed to putting the safety and security of all supporters as our number one priority.
Smartphones and cameras can still be brought into the stadium for games, provided that such devices are no larger than the maximum permitted dimensions of 150mm x 100mm. Laptops and tablet devices such as iPads (including iPad Minis) will fall foul of these rules, which seem likely to see stewards with tape measures in arguments with the fondleslab-using, prawn-cocktail-sandwich-eating types outside Old Trafford's hospitality suites.
The club compares this move to changes recently introduced at airports which mean passengers will not be allowed to fly with electronic devices that can't be switched on at the point they pass through security checks. The rules at Old Trafford are even stricter because they apply whether or not a device is charged up. "These actions are designed to ensure the continued safety and security of all spectators," the club said.
Major sporting events, much like public transport hubs, are a recognised terrorist target and this has arguably been the case going back to the bombing of the Atlanta Olympics of 1996, where the public were targeted, and the Munich Olympics of 1972, when Israeli athletes were held hostage and later murdered.
Reducing the mechanisms through which fans can connect to the club while in the Old Trafford stadium itself seems like swimming against the tide of online fan engagement that every other club is following. On the other hand, die-hard fans resent spectators standing up and taking pictures and videos with iPads and the like while they are trying to watch the match.
It's unclear whether other clubs in the UK or elsewhere will follow Manchester United's lead. The Daily Mail reports that the New York Yankees banned iPads from their stadium four years ago, before reversing the decision two years later. ®