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Manchester United and the Exploding Mobile Phone and why parallels with disaster planning  in business can be made

It hit me at 3.20pm on Sunday, as fans started to pour out of the stadium that the game had been cancelled. The end of season party was over and the 3,500 travelling Bournemouth fans fell silent, the inflatable beach balls were popped. This wasn’t how it was meant to end.

At 8.00 a.m. that morning we’d left Bournemouth in eager anticipation at seeing the mighty Cherries playing at the Theatre of Dreams. We’d a five-hour road trip ahead of us but it didn’t matter, Bournemouth were safe from relegation and we were going for an end of season party. Nothing could spoil our day, or so we thought!

The sun was shining in Manchester as we approached the ground just before 3.00 pm. From outside the ground all we could hear was the Bournemouth fans in full song, the stadium was ringing with, “We’ve got more fans than you”. It should have registered then that something was afoot as our fans should have been, outnumbered 20 to 1.

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We passed through the gates with security guards searching us, our tickets checked and only then were we permitted into the ground. After a quick pint we made our way out from the bowels of the stadium to our seats. Nothing could prepare us for the sight before us. The pitch was empty, no ground staff or player’s warming up, the North and East stands in front of us were completely empty, with not a soul in sight. Only the West stand contained any United fans and of course the 3,500 noisy Bournemouth fans in the away end. Something was wrong, very wrong!

secure-old-trafford-pic-2After a couple of minutes at our seats we noticed the arrival of sniffer dogs and security personnel scouring the other side of the stadium, which suggested something serious. However the regular communications over the tannoy system and with stewards close by keeping us updated as they got news, the fans felt assured they were in good hands.

When the announcement finally came that the game had been abandoned due to security concerns fans were efficiently ushered through the nearest exit and away from the stadium by the security personnel outside.

What Manchester United demonstrated on Sunday, was meticulous planning that had gone into dealing with a security breach. They had the reporting procedures in place, lines of communication open to ensure constant updates were available, resources in situ to manage developments at a local level and if needed, they knew how to quickly close down operations to avert a disaster. Whilst I was irritated spending nearly 11 hours in total travelling and not getting to watch the football, you had to wonder at the efficiency shown by Manchester United.

It begs the question, what processes, procedures, lines of communication and disaster planning does your business have in place to cater for a security breach. Can your company demonstrate Premier League standards to your customers? Does your organisation have the visibility it needs to know when there’s a problem and are your processes robust enough.

If you’re not sure, then the answer is probably no. This week we’re offering 10 free audits to assess whether your current file transfer strategies and technology is up to Premier League standards. So if you’d like to stay in the game, when all around you are trying to knock you off top spot, speak to one of our data security consultants today on 020 7118 9640.